Delaware prosecutors will no longer be encouraged to pursue criminal charges against those who possess marijuana for personal use, according to guidelines issued by the state’s new Attorney General, Kathleen Jennings.
In a memorandum issued this week, Jennings callas for sweeping changes to help prioritize resources toward the prosecution of violent criminal offenders and away from non-violent defendants. These changes include encouraging prosecutors and “police agencies to expand the use of civil citations [for] marijuana possession in lieu of criminal arrest.”
News radio station WHHY reports that the decriminalization policy will apply to possession cases involving up to 175 grams of cannabis.
Under state law, the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis is a civil violation. By contrast, offenses involving the possession of marijuana in greater amounts (between one ounce and six ounces) are classified as criminal misdemeanors – punishable by up to three months in jail and a criminal record.
The Attorney General’s actions to cease criminally prosecuting minor marijuana possession offenses are similar to those recently taken by municipal law enforcement officials in other states, including Baltimore, St. Louis, and Philadelphia.