Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed House Bill 39 into law Thursday night making Delaware the 20th state to either decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana or make it legal for adults.
Markell quickly signed the bill into law shortly after the state Senate gave their final approval on House Bill 39.
Not a single vote from both the House or Senate chambers came from a Republican lawmaker.
“The governor remains committed to reducing the number of people entering the criminal justice system and refocusing resources where they are needed most,” a Markell spokeswoman said in a prepared statement.
The new law will take effect in six months, removing the criminal penalties for the possession of up to an ounce of weed by an adult, replacing them with a civil infraction punishable by a maximum $100 fine.
The decriminalization bill was written to only protect adult citizens, meaning anyone under the age of 21 caught in possession of marijuana to face prosecution under state law.
A first offense for those between 18 and 21 would result in a civil infraction, while any more would be misdemeanors. Anyone caught with weed under 18, possession would remain a misdemeanor.
“We commend Governor Markell and the Delaware Legislature for moving the state forward and leaving its antiquated marijuana possession law behind,” Robert Capecchi, deputy director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement. “Adults in Delaware will no longer be branded as criminals simply for consuming a substance that is undeniably less harmful than alcohol. Law enforcement officials will be able to spend more time addressing serious crimes instead of arresting and prosecuting adults for simple marijuana possession.”