Delaware hasn’t made any efforts towards legalizing marijuana for adult use, but its regional neighbors are doing otherwise. Due to the rise in interest of medical marijuana all over the nation, Delaware is adopting strategies towards the decriminalization of marijuana for adults use. At the beginning of this year, Delaware assembly led a bipartisan effort to clear the names of those with minor marijuana convictions. Earlier this week, Governor John Carney signed SB 197 into law, which provides compulsory expungement eligibility for most minor marijuana offenses from 1977 to 2015, the year in which marijuana possession was decriminalized in Delaware and use up to an ounce.
New Law offers Mandatory Expungement Eligibility for Most Marijuana Convictions
In 2017, Delaware Gov. John Carney replaced Jack Markell and continued the work of his predecessor regarding criminal justice reform. For decades, various illegal changes have been implemented in Delaware. These reforms include the reformation of mandatory minimums, re-enfranchising individuals with criminal offenses engaging in a National Criminal Justice Reform Project.
As far as decriminalizing cannabis was concerned, Delaware was already concentrating on enhancing its criminal legal system. According to lawmakers, criminal record expungement for previous criminal offenses related to marijuana sounded like a particular course of action. And legislation to offer compulsory expungement eligibility was successfully passed in the state legislature. Recently, it turned into law.
Senator and Minority Whip Gregory F. Lavelle commented on the bill’s signing by saying that the law is “an issue of fairness” and of equity. Lavelle stated that the Senate had previously worked on different expungement measures over the previous years.
What Delaware’s Expungement Bill Means to individuals With Previous Convictions
However, not everyone carrying previous criminal offenses related to marijuana will be eligible for expungement. The bill will be suitable for those who have no earlier charges on their record, and those whose cannabis related offense had to do with the possession or use under one ounce. People convicted for using powerful drugs are ineligible for expungement.
Moreover, expungement won’t be a straightforward task. People who are eligible will have to file an official request for their records, acquire them, then write up and apply for expungement with the State Bureau of Identification. If the applicant is eligible, they’ll gain a mandatory expungement. According to the official expungement guide of Delaware, the filing fee is compulsory for each form. However, the amount is not specified.
According to State officials, a total of 500 to 700 individuals are set to apply for the expungement. However, based on conviction records, over 1,000 residents in Delaware could be eligible.
Previous marijuana convictions originating from decades ago can lead to significant, long-term effects. These minor marijuana convictions make it difficult to gain employment, gain loans and housing and can also affect child custody verdicts. If these marijuana convictions are cleared from an individual’s record, then it will drastically enhance their life prospects.
Nevertheless, states which have legalized cannabis implement expungement policies that are less destructive. Post-legalization expungement laws have been passed in Massachusetts, Oregon, Maryland and Rhode Island. Expungement laws are awaiting administrative approval in California, which has the most significant legal cannabis market in the United States.
Recently, the Center for American Progress announced a poll demonstrating that 70 percent of Americans across party lines favor “clean slate” legislation for nonviolent felony offenders who have served their sentence and stayed away from crime.