Gov. Jack Markell has signed legislation making Delaware the 16th state to allow the use of medical marijuana. Almost 1/3 of the country now has laws permitting people to use marijuana on some level.
The new law allows people 18 and older with certain serious or debilitating conditions that could be alleviated by marijuana to possess up to six ounces of the drug. Qualifying patients would be referred to state-licensed and regulated "compassion centers," which would be located in each of Delaware's three counties. The centers would grow, cultivate and dispense the marijuana. Markell signed the bill Friday morning.
The bill received final legislative approval Wednesday. A spokesman said Markell wanted to sign the measure as quickly as possible because of the lengthy time that will be needed to get a state-run system for distributing medical marijuana up and running.
The Delaware Medical Marijuana Act, Senate Bill 17, amends state law so that physician-supervised patients with an authorized debilitating medical condition can possess and use marijuana for medical purposes. The measure would also provide for the establishment of non-profit “compassion centers” that would be licensed by the state to produce and dispense medical cannabis.
“There are so many people in Delaware who are suffering unimaginable pain that this will help, and we want to be able to do what we can to provide much-needed relief for those citizens,” said Senate Majority Whip Margaret Rose Henry, D-Wilmington East, who sponsored the legislation. “I am very grateful that so many of my colleagues were able to look past the myths surrounding marijuana and into the eyes and hearts of those who were crying out for our help. Needless to say, I am profoundly grateful to Gov. Markell for his support of this important legislation.”
he law goes into effect on July 1 and will permit people diagnosed with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, decompensated cirrhosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), agitation of Alzheimer's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), intractable nausea, severe seizures, severe and persistent muscle spasms, wasting syndrome, and severe debilitating pain that has not responded to other treatments, or for which treatments produced serious side effects, to possess up to six ounces of marijuana without fear of arrest.