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Should Delaware Decriminalize Its Marijuana Laws?

The General

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Should Delaware decriminalize smoking marijuana? A bill has been introduced into the General Assembly that would do just that. While we are at it, why not ask the follow-up question: Should Delaware just go ahead and legalize marijuana? No doubt, the sponsors of the just-proposed bill will claim legalization is not the intent of their action. However, for many Delawareans, legalization is the next logical question. Therefore, why not discuss it now? The proposed bill, House Bill 371, would only decriminalize personal use of marijuana. It would not "legalize" it. An individual could possess up to 28 grams of marijuana. The only prohibition on its use would be smoking it in public.

Backers of the bill and other advocates claim that the public is all for decriminalization. We should be careful about using any polling numbers for two reasons. The first is that the numbers readily available are being offered by advocates for changing the current laws. The second reason is that the debate has just started. H.B. 371 is not expected to go far this late in the legislative session. Advocates likely will have to wait until next year, after the November election, to introduce it again. It will be interesting to hear would-be legislators holding forth on pot at candidate forums this fall. Since it is a public issue, all candidates should have to state their position on how they will vote.

On the surface, it makes sense that a majority of Delawareans would be in favor of decriminalizing marijuana. However, that support is likely just at the surface. It probably reflects public frustration with the status quo. Smoking marijuana can earn a smoker prison time and a $1,150 fine. That does not make sense. While few people actually go to jail for a small amount of marijuana, possession can lead to other legal problems, such as add-on charges. H.B. 371 would make smoking marijuana in public a civic offense, not a criminal one. The fine would be $100. The biggest problem with the bill for most people is that it goes against federal law. Right now, the Obama administration has a policy of ignoring federal marijuana law violations. Many people, however, want the nation to step back from an unsuccessful "war on drugs."

Decriminalization of marijuana is considered an easy and logical step. This is leading to reform led by the states. That could lead to the 50 states having 50 different types of laws — some easy, some tough. However, what happens if the next president is not as tolerant and wants to crack down on the states? We will have a long and noisy legal fight if that happens. In the meantime, Delawareans should consider implications of the bill. Nothing the government does is without consequences. Some are intended. Some are not. It is those unintended consequences that we should be thinking about.

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News Moderator - The General @ 420 MAGAZINE ®
Source: Delawareonline.com
Author: Staff
Contact: Contact Us | Delaware Online
Website: Should Delaware decriminalize its marijuana laws?
 
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