Compared with some of its regional neighbors, Delaware isn’t making rapid strides toward legalizing adult-use cannabis. But it has taken significant steps toward decriminalizing possession and use. Earlier this year, we reported on the bi-partisan effort led by the Delaware Assembly to clear past minor marijuana convictions. And on Wednesday, Governor John Carney signed SB 197 into law, providing mandatory expungement eligibility for most minor marijuana charges between 1977 and 2015, the year Delaware decriminalized possession and use up to an ounce.
New Law Provides Mandatory Expungement Eligibility for Most Marijuana Convictions
When Delaware Gov. John Carney took over for Jack Markell in 2017, he picked up exactly where his predecessor left off on criminal justice reform. Over the past few years, Delaware has implemented a number of criminal legal reforms, including reforming mandatory minimums, re-enfranchising people with felony convictions and participating in a National Criminal Justice Reform Project.
So when it came to decriminalizing cannabis, Delaware was already focusing on improving its criminal legal system. For lawmakers, criminal record expungement for prior cannabis convictions seemed like an obvious course of action. And legislation to provide mandatory expungement eligibility easily passed the state legislature. This week, it became law.