With the introduction of two complimentary bills on Friday that would eliminate the state’s marijuana ban and provide a basic regulatory framework for the market, Delaware lawmakers are attempting the legalization of marijuana once more. Additionally, hearings before the committee are scheduled to begin the following week. The bills, HB 1 and HB 2 are being sponsored by Representative Ed Osienski (D).
The legislature passed the straightforward legalization plan while narrowly rejecting the regulation legislation when he adopted a similar, split strategy during the previous session. The previous law was vetoed by Governor John Carney (D), therefore an override vote in the House was not required. Advocates are hoping for a different outcome this year, and the sponsor says he will work hard to make that happen.
The House Revenue & Finance Committee will take up the regulatory proposal on Wednesday, and the House Health & Human Development Committee will meet on Tuesday to debate the fundamental legalization bill. Each bill had roughly 30 supporters in the House and Senate when it was introduced.
According to a news release from Osienski, “Delaware has been missing an opportunity to participate in the adult recreational marijuana market.” We’ve lost the opportunity to reduce the illicit market, develop a new sector with high-paying jobs, and bring tax income into our state that is now flowing to neighboring states like New Jersey.
The benefits of this program have been explained to members over the course of the last few years, and any lingering myths have also been cleared up, he added. “I’m hopeful that we have the backing to make this attempt a success,” said the speaker.
Here’s What The HB 1 Legalization Bill Would Accomplish:
1. A change to state law would make it lawful for adults 21 and older to possess, use, share, and buy up to an ounce of cannabis.
2. The measure specifies that “adult sharing” does not include giving away cannabis “concurrently with another reciprocal transaction between the same persons,” such as an exchange of a non-marijuana item, in order to prevent misuse of the “gifting” provision.
3. Cannabis cultivation and public consumption would still be illegal.
4. A civil fine of up to $100 could be imposed on anyone under 21 who participates in such behavior for a first violation. However, police might exercise discretion and issue a citation instead of that fine.
Here’s an Overview of The Key Provisions of The HB 2 Regulatory Bill:
- The measure would offer a fundamental basis for establishing a regulated cannabis commerce system for adults in the state.
- Through the establishment of a new Office of Marijuana Control Commissioner, the Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement (DATE) would be in charge of overseeing market regulation.
- Up to 30 retail cannabis licenses could be granted by regulators within the first 16 months of operation.
- The license scoring procedure would give priority to candidates who demonstrate that they will offer a decent salary, health insurance, paid time off for illness, and an emphasis on hiring a diverse pool of candidates.
- A “Justice Reinvestment Fund” that supports restorative justice, workforce development, technical assistance for those who are economically disadvantaged, and other initiatives would get 7% of marijuana business fees.
- Additionally, “creating or developing technologies to aid with the restoration of civil rights and erasure of criminal records” would be supported by that fund. However, automatic expungements are not permitted by the law itself.
- The bill would also provide for social equity and microbusiness licenses in addition to traditional retail, grower, manufacturing, and laboratory licenses (reserved for applicants with majority ownership by Delaware residents).
- Through an ordinance, localities would be able to forbid marijuana enterprises from operating there.
- A 15% sales tax would be applied to marijuana sales for adult use. Products made from medical cannabis wouldn’t be taxed.
— Marijuana Moment is tracking hundreds of cannabis, psychedelics, and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts, and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.
Every year Delaware loses millions of dollars in revenue because we don’t pass these bills. Legalizing and regulating the sale of marijuana is the appropriate thing to do from an economic and criminal justice standpoint, according to Sen. Trey Paradee (D), the primary Senate proponent of the legislation. As long as it takes for this legislation to become law, I will continue to be the primary Senate sponsor.
Since demand would be diverted away from illegal cartels and businesses, the legislation’s “whereas” section claims that “the establishment of a legal, regulated marijuana industry would effectively eliminate the illegal market for marijuana in Delaware and provide law enforcement officials with the legal means necessary to ensure the safe legal use of marijuana in Delaware.”
The legislation would also “address criminal justice concerns associated with the criminalization and limitations on the manufacture, possession, and transportation of the substance,” particularly the long-standing racial inequities in marijuana enforcement. Advocates are growing more confident about the legislation’s prospects given that last year’s election introduced more progressive lawmakers to the assembly, in addition to regional legalization developments pressuring Delaware to approve the reform.
Olivia Naugle, a senior policy analyst with the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), told Marijuana Moment, “We’re enthusiastic for a fresh push for legalization with new members in the General Assembly this legislative session.” “The legislature must take action because Delawareans have long favored lifting the prohibition on cannabis. By supporting these laws if and when they get to his desk, Governor John Carney will have another opportunity to stand up for justice and the will of the people.
We are hopeful that he will alter his position. The regulation bill needs to be approved by three-fifths of the MPs since it contains tax-related provisions. Only a simple majority is required to pass the fundamental legalizing proposal. After an earlier proposal that included both components was defeated in the House due to not receiving the necessary three-fifths of the vote, Osienski made the deliberate choice to separate the proposals in the previous session.
High hopes exist that the new law will pass both chambers, but it is unclear how the governor would handle it given his continued opposition to full legalization or whether enough votes would be needed to overcome a hypothetical veto.
A more focused bill that would have made it clear that medical marijuana users are not prohibited from purchasing, carrying, or transferring weapons under state law was vetoed by Carney in October. According to a poll conducted that month, a clear majority of Delaware voters favor legalizing marijuana, including nearly three in four Democrats who support the measure that the state’s Democratic governor vetoed last year.