Photo: Flickr via prensa420

Photo: Flickr via prensa420

Being caught with a small amount of marijuana in Delaware will, in most circumstances, no longer come with threats of prison time, hefty fines, or a criminal record, reports delawareonline.com.

A new law decriminalizing the possession and personal use of up to an ounce of marijuana goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday – exactly six months after Gov. Jack Markell signed the legislation.

"There will be some confusion because people may think marijuana is legal now, and that is not the case," said New Castle County Police chief Elmer Setting. "Hopefully, they read and understand the law."

The law says possession or private use of a small amount of marijuana will no longer be punishable by a fine of up to $1,150 and six months in jail. Instead, the penalty will be a $100 civil fine – which can be paid like a traffic ticket.

People under 18 or those caught using marijuana in public will still face criminal sanctions, and the drug can still be confiscated by police.

Marijuana advocates in the First State are cheering decriminalization, saying it is the first step toward the loftier goal of legalization.

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