Delaware Cannabis Laws + Possession Limits

by Kat Austin November 30, 2023 6 min read

Delaware Cannabis Laws + Possession Limits - Vida Optima™

Lately, Delaware has undergone significant shifts in its cannabis laws, transitioning from strict prohibition to allowing medical marijuana use. Understanding the nuances of these laws can be challenging, but we're here to shed light on them. 

Join us as we explore the details of Delaware's cannabis laws, including regulations on possession, cultivation, penalties, and the complexities surrounding the acquisition and distribution of medical cannabis within the state. Let's dive in!

Table of Contents
Is Cannabis Legal in Delaware?
Delaware Cannabis Laws
How the Legal Sale of Cannabis Happens
Penalties for Marijuana-Related Crimes

Key Takeaways

  • Cannabis is legal for medical and recreational use in Delaware.
  • A recreational consumer can possess up to 1 ounce at time, while a medical patient can have up to 3 ounces.
  • There are penalties for possessing more than the allowable amount of cannabis, for unlicensed sales, and for consuming in public spaces. 
  • Recreational use of marijuana is still prohibited, but hemp-derived THC products may be a good option. 

Is Cannabis Legal in Delaware?

A bottle of cannabis oil and cannabis oil capsules scattered on a table with hemp leaves.

Delaware Governor John Carney allowed companion bills, HB1 and HB2, to become law in April 2023, legalizing recreational marijuana. HB1 permits adults 21 or older to possess limited quantities of cannabis and its derivatives, prohibiting its public consumption and home cultivation. This bill also allows adult-to-adult transfers of cannabis without involving money or transactions. 

Meanwhile, HB 2 introduces a 15% excise tax on cannabis sales and grants local municipalities the authority to regulate or ban commercial cannabis activities. Since 2011, medicinal marijuana has been legal in Delaware under the Delaware Medical Marijuana Act (DMMA), which restricts possession limits and prohibits home cultivation for patients.

Regulations for Medical Use in Delaware

There are regulations in place to govern how a medical marijuana patient in Delaware can possess and use cannabis. For instance:

  • Medical marijuana patients must be granted a medical license. To get a license, you must have a doctor’s recommendation from a MD (Medical Doctor),DO (Doctor of Osteopathic medicine), APRN (Advanced Practice RN), or PA (Physician Assistant) that is licensed in Delaware. 
  • Medical marijuana patients can only possess up to 6 ounces at a time.
  • Medical patients can purchase up to 3 ounces over a 14 day calendar period.  
  • Marijuana paraphernalia (such as bongs, pipes, androlling paper) is not considered necessary for any type of medical marijuana treatment. Therefore, these items may still be considered “paraphernalia” for legal purposes, regardless of whether the person in possession has a medical marijuana card.  
  • Medical consumers are still prohibited from consuming cannabis in public spaces. This includes in moving or parked vehicles, near educational institutions, federal properties, healthcare spaces, public areas, or near individuals under 18 years old.

Qualifying Conditions and Regulations for Medical Cannabis in Delaware

For adults, the qualifying conditions for medical cannabis use (with a doctor’s recommendation) include:

  • terminal illness
  • Cancer
  • decompensated cirrhosis
  • multiple sclerosis
  • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • agitation of Alzheimer's disease
  • autism with aggressive behavior
  • PTSD
  • Glaucoma
  • anxiety (CBD-rich card only)
  • chronic debilitating migraines or new daily persistent headache
  • or a medical condition or treatment that produces wasting syndrome
  • intractable nausea
  • Seizures
  • severe and persistent muscle spasms
  • severe debilitating pain that is unresponsive to other treatments for over three months or for which other treatments resulted in debilitating side effects

Regulations for Adult Use in Delaware

Recreational use is legal in Delaware, though sales will begin some time in 2024. Recreational users are limited to the following regulations:

  • Recreational users must be 21 years or older.
  • Recreational cannabis users are allowed to have up to 1 ounce of cannabis leaf, 12 grams or less of concentrated cannabis, or marijuana products containing 750 milligrams or less Delta-9 THC at a time. 
  • Cannabis must be stored and used away from anyone under the age of 18. 
  • Transportation of a legal quantity of cannabis by adults is permitted. Cannabis must be stored in a closed container and stored in a place that is not readily available to anyone in the vehicle, like in the trunk.  
  • Marijuana cannot be consumed in public spaces and employers still have the right to enforce a zero-tolerance policy and require drug testing for THC. 
  • Delaware residents living in rented spaces must have permission from their property managers or landlords before using cannabis in their homes. 

Restrictions for Cannabis Use in Delaware

In Delaware, specific regulations govern cannabis use:

  • Growing cannabis at home is prohibited.
  • Driving under the influence of cannabis is strictly forbidden.
  • Consumption of cannabis in public spaces or vehicles is illegal and carries fines up to $200, a maximum of 5 days' imprisonment, or both.
  • Cannabis in transit must be stored in a sealed container inaccessible to drivers or passengers.
  • Unlicensed sale of cannabis is against the law. Even though cannabis is legalized, the official sale of adult-use products is not expected to begin before at least mid-2024. Selling recreational cannabis without a license will lead to legal consequences.
  • Exceeding the approved possession limits is illegal. While adults of legal age (21+) can share cannabis up to the limit with others of legal age, it is unlawful to offer cannabis as a "gift" if associated with or promoted alongside a purchase.

Delaware Marijuana Laws

In Delaware's recent cannabis legislation:

  • Medical marijuana legalization dates back to 2011 under HB 39, allowing patients with specific medical conditions to purchase up to 3 ounces every two weeks from licensed dispensaries. Patients under 18 require caregivers for purchase.
  • HB 1 decriminalizes personal use quantities of marijuana and paraphernalia. Sharing cannabis among adults without compensation is allowed, but public use, home cultivation, and smoking in restricted areas remain illegal.
  • HB 2 sets up a regulatory system for recreational marijuana, prohibiting public use, consumption in vehicles, and sales in alcohol-licensed premises. It establishes funds benefiting communities affected by past cannabis laws, utilizing taxes and fees collected from cannabis-related activities.

How Cannabis is Bought and Sold in Delaware

In Delaware, recreational cannabis sales are not operational yet, as the state finalizes regulations and licensing frameworks for the adult-use market. The anticipated commencement of legal sales is projected to be around mid-2024. Despite this, licensed cannabis dispensaries are permitted to sell medical marijuana products such as oil, tinctures, concentrates, flower, vapes, and related paraphernalia.

For those purchasing medical cannabis, licensed dispensaries in Delaware implement strict verification processes. Buyers must present both their Delaware medical marijuana cards and valid government-issued IDs to make lawful medical cannabis purchases. Dispensaries are also mandated to monitor transactions, ensuring that no individual exceeds purchasing limits, restricting buyers to a maximum of 3 ounces of medical cannabis every two weeks.

Where and How to Buy Legal Cannabis in Delaware:

  • Licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in Delaware. Eventually, recreational cannabis will also be available at dispensaries.
  • Products available include oil, tinctures, hash, concentrates, flower, vapes, paraphernalia
  • -Verification process requires Delaware medical marijuana card and government-issued ID. Recreational users will be required to show ID for each purchase. 
  • Purchase limit caps at a maximum of 3 ounces of medical cannabis every two weeks

Penalties for Marijuana-related Crimes in Delaware

Possession and Cultivation Penalties:

  • Between 1 ounce and 175 grams:Misdemeanor, 3 months jail time, maximum fine of $575
  • Between 175 grams and 1,500 grams: Felony, 2 years jail time, maximum fines at court discretion
  • Between 1,500 grams and 5,000 grams: Felony, 5 years imprisonment, maximum fine at court discretion
  • 5,000 grams or more:Felony, 2-25 years imprisonment, maximum fine at court discretion

Possession with Intent to Distribute, Sale, and Manufacture Penalties:

  •  Up to 1,500 grams: Felony, 8 years jail time, maximum fine at court discretion
  •  Between 1,500 grams and 5,000 grams: Felony, 15 years jail time, maximum fine at court discretion
  •  5,000 grams or more: Felony, 2-25 years imprisonment, maximum fine at court discretion

Consumption Penalties

  • Knowingly or intentionally consuming cannabis beyond permitted personal use:Misdemeanor, fines up to $575, or 3 months jail time, or both
  • Under 21 consuming personal use quantity: Civil violation, $100 first violation, $200-$500 second violation
  • Consuming in public or a moving vehicle: Misdemeanor, fines up to $200, 5 days jail time, or both

Hash and Concentrates Possession:

  •  Up to 12 grams or 750 milligrams of Delta-9 THC:Legal, same penalties as marijuana possession for higher quantities

Marijuana Paraphernalia:

  •  No penalties for possession or use of paraphernalia related to marijuana possession or use
  •  Legal to deliver or possess paraphernalia with intent to deliver for marijuana use

Legal Cannabis and Buy Online Alternatives

Although cannabis is legal in many states, hemp-derived THC products are still rising as a noteworthy alternative thanks to their affordability and accessibility. Hemp-derived THC products are federally legal, unlike traditional marijuana products, meaning they can often be ordered online and shipped right to your door.

Read “Is Delta-8 Legal? A State by State Guide to Delta-8-THC Laws” to learn more about hemp THC laws near you, then check out our Elev8 and Cloud9 Collections.

Vida Optima Delta-9-THC Gummies

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