The first of two proposals to legalise marijuana in Delaware has been passed by a House committee; this one deals with setting up the framework for an adult-use programme should the simpler legalisation bill also pass.
On Tuesday, a 7-2 vote was cast in favour of Rep. Ed Osienski’s (D-Wis.) HB 2 in the House Revenue & Finance Committee. Problems like taxation and the establishment of guidelines for the industry are addressed.
On Wednesday, another committee will consider HB 1, another bill by the same sponsor. These new changes surface only days after the 2023 session’s updated plans were first unveiled.
Last session, when Osienski attempted a similar two-pronged strategy for the reform, the core legalisation proposition passed while the regulation legislation was narrowly defeated. The former measure was vetoed by Democratic Governor John Carney and overridden without a vote in the House.
According to the bill’s sponsor at Tuesday’s hearing, “this legislation establishes the legal framework to licence and regulate a new industry to create well-paying jobs for Delawareans while striking a blow against the criminal element which profits from this ever-growing and thriving illegal market for marijuana in our state.”
Osienski has speculated that the bill to legalise sales could reach the House floor in March after it passes the House Appropriations Committee.
Here’s What the HB 1 legalization bill would accomplish
There would be a change in the law that would allow adults over the age of 21 to legally possess, use, share, and buy up to an ounce of cannabis.
The measure prohibits “gifting” of cannabis unless it is “contemporaneous with another reciprocal transaction between the same persons,” such as an exchange of a non-marijuana item.
The use and cultivation of cannabis would still be illegal.
Anyone under 21 caught engaging in this behaviour could face a fine of up to $100 for a first offence. However, the police have the ability to issue a citation in place of the fine.
Here’s an Overview of The Key Provisions of The Hb 2 regulatory Bill
The Proposed Legislation Would Lay the Groundwork for The Legal Sale of Cannabis to Adults in The State.
A New Office of Marijuana Control Commissioner Would Report to The Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement (date), Which Would Oversee the Industry.
There May Be as Many as 30 Cannabis Store Licences Issued in The First 16 Months of Legalisation.
A Higher Score in The Licencing System Would Be Given to Applicants Who Demonstrated They Would Provide a Livable Wage, Health Insurance, Sick and Paid Leave, and An Emphasis on Diversity in Employment.
The “justice Reinvestment Fund” Would Receive Seven Percent of All Fees Collected from The Marijuana Industry to Be Used Toward Restorative Justice, Workforce Development, Technical Help for Economically Disadvantaged People, and Other Similar Initiatives.
To “create or Develop Technology to Aid with The Restoration of Civil Rights and Erasure of Criminal Records,” the Budget Would Allocate Some of The Allotted Amount. However, Automatic Expungements Are Not a Part of The Law.
The Bill Would Additionally Provide for Social Equity and Microbusiness Licences in Addition to The More Common Retail, Grower, Manufacturer, and Laboratory Permits (reserved for Applicants with Majority Ownership by Delaware Residents).
Having a Local Ordinance that Forbids the Operation of Marijuana Shops Is an Option for Communities.
There Would Be a 15% Sales Tax on Marijuana for Adults. the Tax on Medical Marijuana Would Be Eliminated.
Osienski Stated that He Plans to Talk with Officials Before Bringing the Bill to The Floor After Hearing “concerns” from A Number of State Entities.
On Wednesday, a Witness from The State Department of Agriculture Testified that Officials There Are Concerned that Outdoor Cultivation Provisions Could Harm the State’s Hemp Programme Due to The Possibility of Cross-Pollination.
An Official from The Department of Revenue Expressed Frustration with The Continued Difficulty of Conducting Financial Transactions in Light of Federal Prohibition and Asked for Further Time to Build Record-Tracking Systems for The Business.
Osienski Stated that Other Departments, Such as The Department of Revenue, Have Asked for Money to Hire More People in Case the Measure Becomes Law.
According to Marijuana Moment, Olivia Naugle, a Senior Policy Analyst with The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), Said, “we commend the House Revenue and Finance Committee for Endorsing Hb 2 to Legalise and Tax Cannabis Sales in Delaware.”
There Would Be Less Demand for The Black Market as A Result of This Legislation, and The State Would Benefit from A New Revenue Stream and New Employment Opportunities. Meanwhile, in Neighbouring New Jersey, Legal Sales Have Already Begun, but Not in Delaware. It Is Imperative that The General Assembly Passes House Bill 1 and House Bill 2 This Session.
Because “the Creation of A Legal, Regulated Marijuana Industry Would Effectively Eliminate the Illegal Market for Marijuana in Delaware by Diverting Demand Away from Illicit Cartels and Enterprises and Provide Law Enforcement Officials with The Legal Means Necessary to Ensure the Safe Legal Use of Marijuana in Delaware,” as stated in The Bill’s “whereas” Section.
In Addition, It Would “address Criminal Justice Concerns Associated with Criminalization and Limitations on The Manufacture, Possession, and Transit of The Substance,” Such as The Historically Disproportionate Application of Marijuana Laws by Police.
Advocates Are Enthusiastic About the Legislation’s Prospects After the Election Last Year Brought More Progressive Lawmakers to The Legislature, as well as Regional Legalisation Developments Putting Pressure on Delaware to Embrace the Reform.
There Are Tax Provisions in The Regulation Bill, Therefore It Needs the Support of Three-Fifths of Legislators to Pass. a Simple Majority of Voters Is All that Is Required to Pass the Minimum Legalisation Legislation.
After an Earlier Proposal that Comprised Both Components Was Rejected in The House Because It Failed to Satisfy the Three-Fifths Vote Criteria, Osienski Made the Deliberate Choice to Divide up The Proposals in The Previous Session.
There Is Optimism that The New Law Would Pass Both Chambers, but How the Governor Would Handle It Given His Persistent Opposition to Full Legalisation Is Unknown, as Is Whether or Not the Numbers Will Be There to Overturn a Veto.
Carney Vetoed a Narrower Bill in October that Would Have Made Clear that Patients with Medicinal Marijuana Cards Are Not Forbidden by State Law from Purchasing, Carrying, or Transferring Weapons.
According to A Poll Conducted in The Same Month as The Governor’s Veto, a Large Majority of Delaware Voters Support Legalising Marijuana. This Includes Over Three-Quarters of Democrats who support the reform.