September 04, 2018, Delaware
Like neighboring states, the topic of adult-use cannabis legalization doesn’t get much traction in Delaware. However, the mid-Atlantic state has taken considerable measures to decriminalize the use and possession of the strain. Delaware decriminalized the possession and use of up to one ounce of marijuana in 2015.
At the beginning of this year, Delaware Senate approved a bill to expunge past minor cannabis convictions. It is important to note that the bill was a result of bipartisan efforts. The Senate bill 197 entails the expungement of marijuana criminal records of past 38 years. Last week, Gov. John Carney finally ratified the bill to make it part of the legislation.
Criminal justice reforms in Delaware
Before Gov. Carney assumed the office, the state had already started working on criminal justice reforms, and kudos to the incumbent governor for not putting up any hurdles in the implementation of these reforms. For instance, the state has already amended the structure of mandatory sentencing. Similarly, a program to re-enfranchize past felony convicts has also been launched.
This is the reason why decriminalization of cannabis turned out to be a smooth sailing in the state. Expungement of past criminal records was also considered as an essential part of the cannabis decriminalization by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. Hence, the bill succeeded in gathering complete bipartisan support and eventually became a law last week. George F. Lavelle, a Republican senator and minority whip who sponsored the bill in the Senate, has applauded the signing of the bill and termed it as an issue of equity and fairness.
How will expungement work in Delaware?
It is important to note that not all past marijuana convictions are eligible for expungement. People with simple cannabis convictions can apply to wipe out their criminal record. For instance, citizens convicted for possessing less than one ounce of the strain are eligible. But drug convictions involving violence can’t be expunged irrespective of the amount of the drug.
In addition, it won’t be an automatic process. Eligible citizens have to obtain their criminal record first then have to fill in and file an official application in the State Bureau of Identification. Citizens with eligible requests will then get a mandatory expungement. People have to pay a fee for each application. However, the bureau hasn’t specified the amount yet. Officials are expecting to receive 500 to 700 expungement applications. But the record suggests that there are well over 1000 marijuana convictions eligible for expungement in the state.
Criminal records irrespective of the degree of the crime are always held against the affected individuals. From difficulties in finding jobs to secure loans, affected people are marginalized in more than one way.
Expungement policies should always come with legalization measures. However, that’s not the case. There are many legal states where affected citizens still await the announcement of expungement framework. According to a survey carried out by the Center for American Progress, over 70 percent of US citizens across all party lines are in favor of expunging criminal records that don’t involve violence and a trail of other crimes.
Marijuana stays in the news, and Alice is always ready to keep us updated. A world traveler and lover of freedom, Alice knows what is going on, no matter where she roams. She specializes in marijuana legalization stories across the globe, with up to date... [read more]