Delaware Legalizes Recreational Cannabis: What You Need To Know

Fox Rothschild LLP

Fox Rothschild LLP

The "First State" recently became the 22nd in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana.

The Delaware General Assembly in March, passed two bills related to the legalization of marijuana. House Bill 1 regulates the legal personal use of marijuana by adults in Delaware and House Bill 2 establishes and regulates the Delaware marijuana industry. Both Bills were enacted on April 23, 2023, without the signature of Gov. John Carney.

Below is an overview of Delaware’s new adult-use marijuana laws.

Legal Use and Quantity Allowed

The new laws remove all penalties for use or possession of a ‘personal use quantity’ of marijuana, as well as marijuana accessories, by adults over 21 years of age. Personal use quantity is defined as 1 ounce or less of leaf marijuana as well as equivalent amounts of marijuana product in other forms. Transportation of a legal quantity of marijuana by adults is permitted in a vehicle as long as the marijuana is in a closed container or otherwise not readily accessible to anyone in the vehicle. Marijuana may not be consumed in public and employers are still permitted to enforce a zero-tolerance policy.

The Marijuana Industry in Delaware

The new regulations authorize the operation of 30 marijuana retail outlets in the state, beginning around September of 2024. A total of 60 cultivator licenses, 30 manufacturing licenses and 5 testing licenses will also be available with most two-year licenses carrying a $10,000 fee. Licenses will be issued after a competitive bidding process conducted by a newly established Marijuana Commissioner. The Marijuana Commissioner will also be tasked with regulation and inspection of marijuana facilities.

Marijuana sales will operate in a similar fashion as alcohol sales, including applicable taxes (15% on all retail sales), permitted hours, and fines and penalties for the sale to underage individuals. Notably, marijuana may not be sold in establishments licensed to sell alcohol. Regulation of marijuana sales will be enforced by the Delaware Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement. Operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana will have the same penalties as drunk driving.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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