Governor Carney Signs Bill To Expunge Some Cannabis Convictions

By Benjie Cooper

IG: @nuglifenews

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Delaware decriminalized cannabis in 2015 when then-governor Jack Markell signed HB39, a bill reducing possession penalties for up to an ounce from a misdemeanor with possible jail time to a civil infraction with a $100 fine.

The state also legalized medicinal cannabis in 2011 by passing SB17, protecting certified patients from arrest.

Current Delaware governor John Carney signed SB197 into law on Wednesday, August 29, mandating the expungement of some people’s cannabis convictions.

“As a supporter of criminal justice reform, this is common sense legislation to provide equity for those previously convicted of offenses that are no longer illegal,” said Senate Minority Whip and bill co-sponsor Greg Lavelle [R-Sharpley] in a statement. “The narrow scope of this legislation provides relief, specifically to those with no other criminal convictions. This will expedite these expungements without overburdening the system.”

According to the Office of Defense Services, somewhere between 500 and 700 Delaware residents will be able to take advantage of the new legislation, but only those who have no other criminal convictions on their record. Only those with a single cannabis offense in their file will be allowed to have it sealed.

“Delaware has made significant strides forward in the criminal justice system in recent years, and this bill is another step in the right direction said House Majority Leader and co-sponsor Valerie Longhurst [D-Bear]. “Hundreds of Delaware residents have criminal convictions for simply possessing a small amount of marijuana before we decriminalized it. This new law will help these residents clear their records of minor infractions and allow them to move forward with their lives.”

To have their offense expunged, eligible individuals must submit a request to the State Bureau of Identification, pay the required fee, and fill out the mandatory expungement form. The new law does not apply to convictions for amounts higher than the decriminalized limit of one ounce.