House votes down marijuana legalization bill

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As expected, supporters of marijuana legalization in Delaware did not have enough votes in the House.

Leadership took the unusual step of allowing the vote and supporters did not pull the bill.

The measure was defeated by a 21 to 15 margin, with Republicans accounting for the no votes, with five Democrats, including House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf not voting.

AAA Mid-Atlantic, an adamant foe of legalization, issued the following statement from Cathy Rossi, vice president of public and government affairs.

“We appreciate the thoughtful consideration of this issue by members of the General Assembly. We believe the final vote reflects the necessary caution before any major public policy change. As legislators in Illinois, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut decided in recent months, recreational marijuana is a complex issue that deserves significant scrutiny. From a road safety perspective, we want Delaware drivers, passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians spared the increased risk of marijuana-impaired drivers that states like Colorado and Washington are now facing.”

Polls indicate that six in ten Delawareans favor legalization.

However, Vermont is the only state that gained legislative approval for legalization. Other states approved legalization via referendum questions. Marijuana becomes legal in Vermont on July 1.

AAA has argued that problems with impaired driving and other issues have not been addressed in states where marijuana is legal.

“We won’t stop fighting until our Legislature votes with the 61 percent of Delawareans who support legalization. Thank you to all who have supported us and for the hard work of our volunteers and grassroots activists. We’re already gearing up for next session. Will you join the fight?,” a post from the Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network stated.

A post from another advocacy group urged members to talk to their legislators about the issues, noting that there is still the chance that some legislators might change their minds.

Still, the vote is expected to lead to pro-marijuana voters to seek candidates sympathetic to their cause.

Even those sympathetic to legalization argue that the state’s medical marijuana infrastructure is not yet built out. The third dispensary in the state will open on Friday, with a fourth coming to Newark.

Delaware was one of the pioneers in approving medical marijuana but was reluctant to move forward, due to legal concerns.
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