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Marijuana decriminalization heads to Senate floor

Delaware Public Media

A bill that would decriminalize marijuana possession for adults is headed for its last legislative hurdle after clearing a Senate committee Wednesday.

Those over 21-years-old could carry up to an ounce of pot and only receive a $100 fine, while smoking in public would still be a misdemeanor crime.

The Delaware Police Chiefs’ Council is pushing for an amendment to lower the amount allowed to half an ounce.

The council's executive Director Martin Johnson, executive director of the Delaware Police Chiefs’ Council, says anyone with more than a half an ounce is likely involved in more than personal use.

“It sounds more like an opportunity to be selling this, so our position, one who has a quantity of one ounce either intends to sell some of it or perhaps is planning a big party,” said Johnson.

But Robert Capecchi, representing the pro-pot group Marijuana Policy Project, points out that selling the drug will be illegal regardless of this bill.

“Law enforcement will still be able to arrest anyone for intent to distribute if they have evidence that that individual was intending to distribute that marijuana, whatever the quantity is,” said Capecchi.

Bill sponsor Rep. Helene Keeley (D- Wilmington South)  says she has no interest in amending the bill.

House lawmakers passed it earlier this month by a slim margin 24-14.

The legislation now heads to the full Senate for a vote. Gov. Jack Markell (D-Delaware) has said he would sign the bill.

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