Delaware reverses criminal charges for pot busts

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A new law erases previous charges for marijuana possession

A bill introduced in Delaware designed to expunge the records of individuals charged with marijuana possession prior to its decriminalization has now been made law. Now, anyone who was charged with possessing marijuana prior to 2015, when pot was decriminalized in the state, will see their records cleared. It’s a huge step forward in recognizing that states were wrong in their position on the legitimacy of marijuana.

The bill was sponsored by Senator Greg Lavelle and Representative Valerie Longhurst. According to Lavelle, “On that question, ‘have you been arrested and convicted,’ that’s on a form for an employment opportunity, you get to say no. It’s gone, it’s not part of your record anymore, and it really is that simple.”

Before the law was enacted, anyone with a record of marijuana possession was possible through a pardon request, but this wasn’t a guarantee that the record would be cleared. Now, expungement is guaranteed, but the request still needs to be completed and an administrative fee paid. Lavelle added that the government is working on a policy that will provide notification to the five to seven hundred people in the state that are eligible to have their records cleared.

Governor Carney signed the bill last Wednesday. When the laws were changed in 2015, having an ounce or less of marijuana was made a civil violation that only results in a fine of $100. Prior to this, simple possession was considered a criminal offense that led to fines or jail time, or both.