Debate delayed on marijuana decriminalization

Legislation that would treat simple marijuana possession like a traffic violation has stalled in the Delaware House of Representatives while decriminalization supporters meet with law enforcement groups and others opposed to the measure.

Delaware Rep. Helene Keeley, a Wilmington Democrat, is sponsoring the decriminalization bill, which would end criminal penalties for possessing up to an ounce of marijuana.

Smoking pot in a public place, and selling the drug, would remain criminal offenses. But Delawareans found with an ounce or less of marijuana, or those smoking marijuana privately, would face only $100 civil fines, not a criminal record.

Keeley acknowledged that some opponents have questioned why anyone should be allowed to possess an ounce of marijuana, saying that quantity could signal an intent to sell the drug.

Decriminalization advocates and opponents are also discussing the definition of a public area versus a private place, where Delawareans could smoke pot...

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