In June, Gov. Jack Markell signed into law HB 39, which decriminalized possession of an ounce or less of marijuana. The decriminalization bill, which reduces the maximum punishment for such possession from a crime to a civil offense with a $100 fine, passed on a 24-14 vote in the state House of Representatives and on a 12-9 vote in the Delaware Senate.
Just four days later Markell signed SB 90, known as “Rylie’s Law,” which expanded the legal use of cannabis oil by prescription for childhood epilepsy.
The House on a 40-0 vote with one absence agreed to permit doctors to prescribe medical marijuana, in the form of cannabis oil, without regard to the age of the patient. The measure also adds “intractable epilepsy” to the list of conditions that may be treated through the use of medical marijuana. The legal definition of “intractable epilepsy,” according to the bill, is epilepsy that does not respond to traditional drugs.
The medical marijuana oil, also known as cannabidiol oil, has been proven to help people with intractable epilepsy, said the measure’s prime sponsor, state Sen. Ernie Lopez, R-Lewes, in a statement.
State Rep. Michael Ramone, R-Middle Run Valley, the House sponsor of the bill, said, “The time has come for Delaware to allow children, in consultation with thoughtful medical professionals, [to] ease their pain so they will not be held back from the joys we all can experience on a daily basis.
“The door to healing must be open to those who need it the most.”
In a column for Delaware Law Weekly, Peter S. Murphy, an associate at Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, also observed that June brought the opening of the state’s first licensed medical marijuana dispensary—First State Compassion Center Inc.
“These recent collective measures demonstrate the growing support among legislators and Markell toward greater medical marijuana access, and, perhaps, a changing view toward recreational use as well,” Murphy wrote.