Delaware legalized its medical marijuana program in May of 2011. The Delaware Medical Marijuana Act was signed into law by Governor Jack Markell. In June 2015 the first clinic opened in the state. This left patients around the state needing to make the journey to buy their medicine.
This limited access drove many patients to the black market, and in 2016, an initiative was started to increase the number of compassion centers in the state. As of 2020, six compassion centers are operating in the state.
In 2015, Governor Markell advanced the state's allowances by decriminalizing the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis.
Under the Delaware Medical Marijuana Act, patients are allowed to purchase three ounces of medical cannabis every two weeks – totaling six ounces for the entire month.
Patients and designated caregivers can buy up to three ounces of usable cannabis every two weeks.
The state Department of Health and Human Services lists the following approved medical conditions:
Qualifying Conditions for Medical Marijuana in Delaware:
- Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
- Agitation of Alzheimer’s Disease
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
- Autism with aggressive behavior
- Decompensated Cirrhosis
- Positive status for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV Positive)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Terminal Illness
Additionally, chronic or debilitating diseases, medical conditions or treatment that produces one or more of the following;
Additional Qualifying Conditions:
- Cachexia or Wasting Syndrome
- Intractable Nausea
- Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to those characteristics of Multiple Sclerosis.
- Severe debilitating pain that has not responded to previously prescribed medication or surgical measure for more than three months, or for which other treatment options produced serious side effects.
Patients must obtain an official written certification from a state physician to qualify for the program.
Beyond the list of qualifying conditions, under Senate Bill 42 (and its subsequent substitutions), “the Department shall issue a compassionate use card to an individual who is eligible for a compassionate use card and who submits all of the following:
(1) A signed statement from the patient’s physician that includes statements attesting to all of the following:
- The patient has a severe and debilitating condition.
- All current standard care practices and treatments have been exhausted and have been ineffective or the side effects are prohibitive with continued use.
- The physician will re-evaluate and document the efficacy of medical marijuana treatment.
- There are grounds supporting the potential for the patient to benefit from using medical marijuana.
(2)a. If the patient is an adult, a signed statement from the patient acknowledging the patient’s informed consent to treatment with medical marijuana and that the patient knows that there is limited or no evidence associated with medical marijuana’s effectiveness in treating a condition that is not a debilitating medical condition under this chapter.
b. If the patient is under 18 years of age, a signed statement from the patient’s parent or legal guardian acknowledging the patient’s informed consent to treatment with medical marijuana and that the patient’s parent or legal guardian knows that there is limited or no evidence associated with medical marijuana’s effectiveness in treating a condition that is not a debilitating medical condition under this chapter. Citizens can also petition the Department to have their condition included on the list.
Under the State of Delaware Medical Marijuana Code, patients can use any form of "usable marijuana." This includes dried leaves and flower, tinctures, ointments and other preparations including medical marijuana oil. Cannabis can be consumed in the form of capsules or chewable tablets, but traditional edibles, such as baked goods or candy preparations, are not allowed.
Qualified patients cannot consume their medicinal cannabis on the following:
Prohibited Consumption Areas:
- Any form of transportation
- Any health care treatment facilities operated or funded by Delaware's DHHS
- Any public place
- Correctional facilities
- School buses
- School grounds
Driving Under the Influence
The state bans medicinal marijuana patients from ingesting medical cannabis in their vehicle, as well as operating one under the influence of marijuana. Violators can be subject to Delaware’s drugged driving laws.
Delaware permits a designated caregiver who meets the following criteria:
Delaware Medical Marijuana Caregiver Requirements:
- Is at least 21 years of age unless the person is the parent or legal guardian of a minor who is a qualifying patient,
- Has agreed to assist with a patient's medical use of marijuana
- Has not been convicted of an excluded felony offense; and
- Assists no more than five qualifying patients with their medical use of marijuana.
Caregivers and patients can transport their medical cannabis but cannot consume or be under the influence of cannabis while operating the vehicle. Additionally, attempts to import or carry marijuana across the state line is subject the criminal prosecution.
Medical cannabis reciprocity is not allowed in Delaware. Delaware accepts only in-state cards and licenses at this time.
Patients and caregivers cannot grow their own cannabis at this time.