Cannabis cultivation in Sussex County is legal but only for medical use by virtue of the Delaware Medical Marijuana Act that took effect on July 1, 2011. As with everything related to medical cannabis in the state, it is governed by the Delaware Medical Marijuana Code. This is implemented and managed by the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) through the Medical Marijuana Program of the Office of Medical Marijuana (OMM) under the Division of Public Health.
The OMM of the DHSS is the licensing and regulating body that grants the compassion center license. This license authorizes the holder to cultivate, manufacture, dispense, and deliver medical cannabis to patients and caregivers who are Medical Marijuana Program cardholders.
Counties and other local governments are prohibited from banning licensed compassion centers. They may, however, assign such centers to specific zones. In general, statewide, licensed compassion centers must be located at a distance of over 500 feet from any existing school, whether private or public.
A licensed compassion center must be a non-profit organization that is, hence, exempted from taxes. There is, however, a $5,000 application fee and a $40,000 certification fee that covers a two-year license. Renewal of the permit is required at least 30 days before it expires.
All licensed compassion centers must be established at the address registered with the DHSS OMM. They must be completely enclosed structures that are locked. To prevent unauthorized access and theft, the premises must be protected by a 24-hour security system with alarms and video surveillance that is continuously fed to the DHSS. Footage must be kept for 90 days. Any significant videos, however, must be kept for 36 months. The system must automatically alert local law enforcement agencies of any breach. The security setup must be checked monthly. The premises must remain accessible to unannounced inspections by the OMM at any time.
The cultivation of medical cannabis can only be done indoors. Licensed cultivators are prohibited from using pesticides. Random samplings of cannabis plants must be sent for testing by independent laboratories.
All licensed compassion centers must have an inventory system connected to the online inventory of the DHSS OMM. The maximum quantity of usable medical cannabis, in any form, allowed for every licensed compassion center at one time is 1,000 pounds. Usable medical cannabis is defined by the Delaware Medical Marijuana Act as dried cannabis leaves and flowers and any preparations made from them. Usable marijuana does not include any additives included in the mixtures.
Any medical cannabis waste, whether plants or products, must be logged in the inventory and made unusable by grinding and combining with other non-cannabis substances, such as soil, plastic, cardboard, and others, in a 50-50 mix.
Cannabis product manufacturing in Sussex County is legal but only for medical cannabis products processed by compassion centers licensed by the Delaware DHSS.
The Delaware Medical Marijuana Code 188.8.131.52.1 states that licensed manufacturers are prohibited from using alkane and petroleum hydrocarbon extraction. Also forbidden are propane, pentane, hexane, and butane. All manufactured medical cannabis products are subject to random sampling and testing by independent laboratories.
To manufacture and sell edible medical cannabis products, a licensed compassion center needs a separate DHSS authorization. Each edible medical cannabis product can only have a maximum content per serving of 10 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) Delta 9 or 25 milligrams of cannabidiol (CBD). Each package can contain only five servings at most. Edible medical cannabis products that contain any amount of THC must have those letters embossed in the product.
All edible medical cannabis products must not require time or temperature control for safety (TCS) against the growth of microorganisms. Allowed are non-TCS chocolates, fudge, chewable sweets, hard candy, and the like. Non-TCS baked items such as muffins, brownies, and cookies are also allowed, but fillings made from meat, fruit, or cream are prohibited.
All packaging of manufactured medical cannabis products must be made of plain, opaque plastic that is at least four millimeters thick, heat-sealed, tamper-proof, and child-resistant. If the contents are not for single use only, the container must be resealable.
Medical cannabis products must all be labeled with the following information clearly set in 6-point type size and in a font and colors not attractive to minors:
The product contains medical cannabis, including THC
The product is for medical use only
The product is meant only for the person whose name is indicated on the label (The name will be added at the point of sale)
The medical cannabis strain contained in the product
The cannabinoid profile of the product, including the quantities of active THC and CBD contained, among others
The complete list of other ingredients in the product and their quantities, especially known allergens
The declaration that the product is free from contamination
The product’s date of manufacture
The product’s expiration date
Instructions on product dosage and use, including recommendations on whether to use it at night or in the daytime
For edible medical cannabis products, the warning that effects may be delayed up to two hours or more after consumption
The warning to keep the product away from children and pets
The warning that the product is unsafe for pregnant or breastfeeding women
The warning that the product may be habit-forming
The warning that the product may be intoxicating and can hamper coordination, concentration, and judgment
The warning that it is illegal to drive or run machinery while under the influence of medical cannabis
Cannabis retail in Sussex County is legal but only for Delaware DHSS-licensed compassion centers. They are only allowed to sell medical cannabis in all its forms, including non-TCS edibles, medical cannabis paraphernalia and supplies needed for administration, and related educational materials. These can only be sold to patients and caregivers who hold Medical Marijuana Program cards.
The licensed compassion center must verify the Medical Marijuana Program cards presented by patients or caregivers online. Each patient, or the patient’s caregiver, is allowed to purchase a maximum of three ounces of usable medical cannabis, as defined by law, for every 14-day period. It is the responsibility of the licensed compassion center to check online and ensure that the purchase is within this limit.
Qualified patients who are Medical Marijuana Program cardholders are only allowed to purchase and take pediatric medical marijuana oil. This is defined by the Delaware Medical Marijuana Code as CBD oil containing a minimum of 15% CBD and a maximum of 7% THC, or THC-A oil with a minimum of 15% THC acid and a maximum of 7% THC.
Before releasing the medical cannabis product, the licensed compassion center must add the patient’s name, the patient’s Medical Marijuana Program identification number, and the date of the purchase to the label.
Licensed compassion centers are required to provide each patient or caregiver with the OMM’s printed FAQ on the rights to use medical cannabis and the limitations on these rights under Delaware law. They must also give each patient or caregiver written instructions stating that the medical products must be kept in their respective containers except when being used, information on potential side effects of medical cannabis, safe techniques for smoking medical cannabis, and options for ingesting medical cannabis.
Cannabis delivery in Sussex County is legal, but only compassion centers licensed by the Delaware DHSS are allowed to deliver medical cannabis purchased from them by patients and caregivers with Medical Marijuana Program cards.
To get a medical marijuana card in Sussex County, the applicant must be a resident of the State of Delaware. Applications can be done online, or the online application form may be printed, filled out, and mailed to:
Delaware Division of Public Health
Medical Marijuana Program
417 Federal St., Suite 140
Dover, DE 19901
For both online and mail applications, the patient must first be examined by any of the following healthcare practitioners who are licensed in the State of Delaware:
A medical doctor (MD)
A doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO)
A physician assistant (PA)
An advanced practice registered nurse (APRN)
If the patient is not yet aged 18, the Delaware-licensed physician must be any of the following:
A pediatric oncologist
A pediatric gastroenterologist
A pediatric neurologist
A pediatric psychiatrist
A pediatric palliative care specialist
A developmental pediatrician
The healthcare specialist will issue a written certification to be submitted with the application if the patient is diagnosed with any of the following medical conditions:
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
Positive status for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV Positive)
Agitation from Alzheimer’s Disease
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Autism with aggressive behavior
Chronic Debilitating Migraine
A debilitating or chronic illness or its treatment that results in any of the following:
Severe persistent muscle spasms
Severe debilitating pain unresponsive for over three months to other medications or surgery, or with other treatment options having serious side effects
The application must be submitted not later than 90 days after the written certificate has been signed. There is a $50 application fee. The processing of the medical marijuana card takes around 45 days, and the card is valid for a year. It must be renewed 90 days before it expires. The DHSS issues both an electronic card and a physical medical marijuana card.
Patients younger than 18 are not allowed to purchase medical cannabis from a licensed dispensary, even if they are given a written certification. A parent or legal guardian must use the pediatric medical marijuana patient application. They will then be issued a Responsible Party ID card to be able to make the purchase on their patient’s behalf. The application fee is also $50.
Adult patients with medical marijuana cards who require assistance to purchase their medical cannabis may designate a caregiver. The medical marijuana caregiver application may be done online or printed out, filled up, and mailed to the same address as the patient application. The caregiver application fee is $50.
To lower the application fee to $25 for any of the applications, the applicant must submit the filled-up fee waiver request and its required attachments. To qualify, the gross household income of the applicant must be equal to or less than 138% of the federal poverty level.
In an update, the Medical Marijuana Program of the OMM has also added two other cards that certain qualified patients can use. The Compassionate Use Card (CUC) can be issued to patients who did not qualify for a medical marijuana card but are certified by a state-licensed healthcare practitioner to have a serious medical condition that is debilitating and not responsive to exhaustive use of other treatments. The healthcare practitioner must submit supporting scientific documents on how medical cannabis treatment will benefit the patient, for the review and approval of the DHHS.
The CBD Rich Card can be issued to patients with anxiety, although it can also be used for other debilitating conditions approved under the traditional medical marijuana card. The difference is that holders of the CBD Rich Card are only allowed to purchase and use medical cannabis that has high levels of CBD and low levels of THC.
Further inquiries may be directed to the following:
Office of Medical Marijuana
417 Federal Street
Dover, DE 19901
Phone: (302) 744-4749
Medical cannabis is tax-exempt. Hence, neither Sussex County nor the State of Delaware earns tax revenues from it. However, income is derived from the application fees for compassion center licenses and Medical Marijuana Program patient and caregiver cards and renewals.
According to the 2021 Medical Marijuana Program Annual Report, in 2020, the total income from these sources was $610,225, from which $484,456 was used for the Medical Marijuana Program’s expenses. In 2021, the total income increased to $1,099,878, from which $564,800 was used for Program expenses.
Medical cannabis in Sussex County was legalized in 2011. Data from the State Police in Sussex County on the FBI’s Crime Explorer page shows that in 2010, there were 279 arrests related to marijuana offenses, of which 209 were for marijuana possession, and 70 were for marijuana manufacturing or sales. In 2021, this decreased to 94 arrests related to marijuana offenses, of which 69 were for marijuana possession, and 25 were for marijuana manufacturing or sales.
There were 76 DUI arrests in 2010. This increased to 112 DUI arrests in 2021.