Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware signed a bill decriminalizing marijuana on Thursday.

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell Signs Bill To Decriminalize Marijuana

The new law, passed by state senators on Thursday, June 18, will allow adults over 21-years-old will no longer face jail time for having less than one ounce of pot. Instead of facing a maximum fine of $1,150 and up to six months in jail, offenders will face a $100 fine. The law, supported by the state Democrats and opposed by the Republicans in the state senate, was crafted, in part, to protect young adults.

“We think this gives some protection to young people because we all know that they go to college and this is one of the things they do unfortunately. We don’t want to affect financial aid, we don’t want to affect housing, we don’t want to affect jobs,” said the bill’s co-sponsor, Sen. Margaret Rose Henry.

The bill also aims to lower the number of Delaware citizens in jail for minor offences and will take effect in six months.

Voting on the bill was split right on party lines, with the bill passing 12-9. Sen. Colin Bonini, a Republican who opposed the bill, said, “This is a vote we’re going to really, really regret. Would you want your kid smoking weed? I think the answer is overwhelmingly no.”

Opposition to the bill also came from law enforcement organizations, which resulted in clear language outlawing smoking marijuana in public spaces. All told, Delaware is now the 18th state to have passed legislation to decriminalize personal marijuana possession and consumption.

“The governor remains committed to reducing the number of people entering the criminal justice system and refocusing resources where they are needed most and House Bill 39 supports these efforts,” said Gov. Markell’s spokesperson Kelly Bachman.

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