Marijuana legalization bill stalls again


Marijuana legalization appears to be dead in this legislative session.

An online look at the bill and its numerous amendments indicate it is not up for a vote in either the House or the Senate.

Failure to pass the bill was not unexpected, given the objections of the Carney administration and the corporate marijuana industry, which operates much of the state’s medical cannabis system.

Delaware Online (hard paywall) also reported a revenue component in the bill would require a three-fourths vote of the General Assembly, an impossibility, given the qualms of some Democrats and many  Republicans.

Polling in Delaware and elsewhere has shown broad-based support for legalization. However, powerful forces that include law enforcement, corporate marijuana, and some in the medical community have been steadfast in their opposition.

The medical marijuana industry would like first dibs on retail operations. The current bill calls for smaller operators to get a chance to open stores, including those who were cited for minor marijuana-related offenses.

Any financial lures arising from tax revenue on marijuana were reduced this year, since the state is running a surplus that could be as much as $1 billion.

Finally, President Joe Biden has not endorsed marijuana legalization on a state or national level. As a  Delaware U.S. senator, Biden endorsed the “war on drugs” that has been blamed for high incarceration rates by people of color who did not have the same level of access to legal services as whites.

Legalization could emerge as an issue in the election year of 2022, as term-limited Carney serves out his last year as governor and others vie for the post.

The election of progressive Democrats had led to heightened hopes that the legislation could pass in this session.

State Auditor Kathy McGuiness, a possible gubernatorial hopeful, released a report earlier this year indicating that legalization could generate tens of millions of dollars in new tax revenue.

Most states that have approved marijuana have done so through voter referendum. Delaware does not have that power in its Constitution.