[May 31, 2014]NEW YORK (Reuters) - Democratic
lawmakers in Delaware have introduced a bill that would decriminalize
possession of a small amount of marijuana, following the lead of nearly
20 U.S. states that have moved to loosen laws surrounding non-medical
use of the drug.
The bill, introduced on Thursday, would exempt from prosecution
adults 21 and older who possess marijuana for their own personal use
and consumption. Personal use was described as possession of 1 ounce
The legislation would also reduce the fine for using marijuana in a
public place to $100. Under current Delaware law, marijuana
possession is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail
and a maximum fine of $1,150.
The bill has the support of about 15 Democrats in the House and
Senate, but no Republican sponsors. Republicans said they plan to
oppose the bill as it heads for a vote before the close of the
legislative session next month.
Supporters say decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana would
lessen the burden on prisons and the justice system.
"So many people's entry into the criminal justice system involves
possession or use of very small amounts of marijuana," state Senator
Bryan Townsend told The News Journal newspaper.
"In my mind, marijuana is not in the same grouping as a lot of the
drugs we need to be focusing our efforts on," he said.
Republicans took an opposing view.
Senate Minority Leader Gary Simpson told The News Journal that he
would vote against the bill, saying marijuana was a "pathway to
greater drug use."
Both Townsend and Simpson could not be reached immediately for