Those on both sides of the issue in Delaware are watching developments as New Jersey marches toward the legal sale of recreational marijuana.
After three years of back in forth in the Trenton, Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation that makes the drug fully legal. The journey included a ballot question and hammering out penalties under the age of 21 who indulge.
Teen use is an area of concern due to preliminary research that indicates marijuana may harm brain development. A major study is underway.
Issues that surfaced in the Garden State included Blacks being far more likely to spend prison time for marijuana offenses. Delaware, facing similar issues, has already decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana.
It will take months and perhaps a year before sales actually get underway in New Jersey. Even then, Delawareans will violate federal law if they cross the Memorial Bridge with Jersey weed.
Legalization legislation is expected to be introduced at any moment in Dover.
Prospects remain uncertain due to opposition from powerful groups and signs that Gov. John Carney is uncomfortable with legalization.
Still, polls strongly indicate that the public is in favor of legal marijuana.
State Auditor and potential gubernatorial hopeful Kathy McGuiness recently rolled out a report indicating that legal weed could add $40 million a year in tax revenue.
A friend in California, a state that has made its share of mistakes in legalization, says Delaware and other jurisdictions have a chance to “get things right.”
If the First State does not jump into the legalization vortex this year, we have a chance to learn a lot from our neighbor. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.