The Delaware News Journal reports that Governor Jack Markell has recently announced his administration would consider changes to marijuana penalties in the state. In 2011, Markell signed legislation legalizing marijuana for medical purposes but the program has since been delayed.
While he is still a supporter of medicinal marijuana by prescription, the governor has made clear that implementation of such a program should not be interpreted as his support for full legalization. His recent announcement, however, does indicate a changing position on the issue. Like Markell, many politicians throughout the nation are caught in a challenging position: on the one hand they must recognize the changing attitudes regarding marijuana but on the other, they want to appear tough on crime.
The Delaware News Journal reports that two-thirds of Delaware residents support more leniency when it comes to drug crime penalties that involve possession of small amounts of marijuana. Most people support fines in lieu of jail time and most support reducing the current fine of $1,150 to $100 for possession of a small amount of marijuana.
Of course there are many challenges for people arrested for possession of marijuana: the current law is extremely harsh if conviction ensues. The political debates surrounding marijuana will likely be ongoing and, in the mean time, many people will be caught up in a criminal justice system that is sure to change in the coming years in regard to marijuana possession. The changes are inevitable but, until those changes are implemented, people arrested for a small amount of marijuana will continue to need aggressive criminal defense attorneys.