A freshened version of a bill to legalize marijuana for personal use has been introduced.
The bill, sponsored by many Democratic legislators, has no GOP co-sponsors. Its sponsor, once again, is state Rep. Ed Osienski, a Newark-area legislator.
The bill allows adults over the age of 21 to legally possess and consume less than an ounce of marijuana for personal use but bans individuals from growing their cannabis.
In the last session, the bill ran into the usual opposition from AAA Mid-Atlantic and the medical community.
Medical marijuana dispensaries that have been gearing up to add recreational cannabis were also unhappy with a provision that would allow smaller operators and those with nonviolent criminal records to gain licenses.
Under the bill, marijuana sellers would be subject to many of the restrictions faced by alcoholic beverage sellers.
The bill has separate licensing requirements for retail marijuana stores, marijuana testing facilities, marijuana cultivation facilities, and marijuana product manufacturing facilities.
Licensing requirements also differ between open licenses, social equity licenses that allow individuals who may have a nonviolent criminal record to apply, and microbusiness licenses.
Marijuana for recreational use would be taxed, with backers claiming legalization would boost the state’s finances.
A new provision would earmark a small portion of taxes in aiding the quality of life in communities affected by the “war on drugs.” These communities saw a disproportionate percentage of minorities going to jail for drug offenses, while many white offenders had lesser penalties.
“This is the best version of a legalization bill that has been introduced in Delaware,” said Zoë Patchell, executive director of Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network. “It includes so many voices from those who have weighed in on this thoughtfully crafted and thoroughly examined legislation. Between ending the arrests, incorporating micro and social equity licenses to create an inclusive industry, and the newly included Justice Reinvestment Fund, this bill will benefit Delawareans in urban, suburban, and rural communities, from the bridge to the beaches.”
“Delaware NORML supports the changes included in the latest revision of the bill, especially the Justice Reinvestment Fund, which aims to give back to the communities ravaged by this failed war on a plant,” said Laura Sharer Delaware executive director. “We hope to see lawmakers come together this year to change Delaware’s outdated policy, which has harmed and continues to harm so many.”
Six in ten Delaware residents, according to a University of Delaware poll.
However, the bill faces the daunting obstacle of getting a supermajority of legislators to vote yes and a reluctant governor to sign it.
The state’s Constitution has no provision for a direct vote from residents that helped bring legal marijuana to many states.
Delaware is listed as one of the states where marijuana legalization could pass by the Marijuana Moment website. However, one negative is Carney stopping short of saying he would sign a legalization bill, the site noted.