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Delaware is 16th State to Legalize Marijuana

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on May 17, 2011 12:44 PM

It's official, pot proponents can add one more state to their victory list - Delaware. Marijuana will now be legalized in the state for residents with serious medical conditions.

Delaware's SB 17, legalizing medical marijuana, was signed into state law by Gov. Jack Markell this week. The 16th state to legalize medical marijuana, the bill legalizes the use of marijuana for people diagnosed with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other diseases that have treatments with debilitating side effects.

Patients will be able to hold up to 6 ounces of marijuana without being arrested, reports Opposing Views.

However, patients will not be able to grow their own marijuana. The state, through the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, will be regulating "compassion centers" and issuing medical marijuana ID cards to patients who have prescriptions, reports Opposing Views.

"Today is an amazing victory for seriously ill Delaware patients, who have been waiting a very long time for the chance to use the medicine they need without fear," said Noah Mamber of the Marijuana Policy Project to Opposing Views.

An administration official said that Gov. Markell wanted to sign the bill into law as soon as possible, since he realized that it would take time to create the infrastructure to distribute medical marijuana within the state.

Legalizing medical marijuana in Delaware means that there will no longer be criminal penalties for patients who use the drug to ease pain associated with their illness. However, legalizing the drug in state law does not mean that it is legal under federal law. Federal law still prohibits the use of marijuana for any purpose, and thus under federal law using marijuana only for medical purposes would still net you a criminal penalty.

This conflict between state and federal law has existed ever since California legalized medical marijuana - the first state to do so. Usually, if federal law conflicts with state law, federal law will prevail. However, the Department of Justice has said that they would not make enforcing marijuana laws on medical marijuana patients a priority.

So now in Delaware, marijuana will be legal for patients - and most likely the feds won't be breaking down any patients' doors.

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