A marijuana legalization bill has again been introduced in the General Assembly.
This time around, the sponsor of the legislation, State Rep Ed Osienski, D-Newark, tacked on a provision that earmarks a small portion of tax proceeds to a fund that would aid communities affected by the failed war on drugs.
The stiff penalties of the past had a lasting impact on communities of color with lengthier prison sentences for minorities that made a return to the workforce difficult.
it comes on top of another social justice measure in last year’s bill that would allow those with criminal records for nonviolent offenses to get a chance at a sales license.
Despite these measures, the legislation faces uncertain prospects.
While stopping short giving a hard “no,” Gov. John Carney wasn’t happy with last year’s bill and may not want legalization to be part of his legacy.
Another problem is the stance of the Biden Administration, which has sent out mixed signals. While not in a mood to interfere with state laws, it is far from being an enthusiastic backer of legalization. The Trump administration seemed to have a similar stance.
Moreover, the bill requires a supermajority for passage. While Democrats hold an advantage, some in the majority party have law enforcement backgrounds. Republican legislators mainly reside in more conservative Kent and Sussex counties that are largely in the “no” zone.
The added revenue argument is not yet compelling, since the state is sitting on a surplus of upwards of $1 billion.
Finally, Delaware, unlike many other states, does not have a mechanism that allows advisory or direct-legislation referendums from voters on issues like legalization.
One option might be a bill that sets a path toward legalization that works to deal with issues that include setting high prices that leave plenty of room for illegal operations, often supplied by cartels, to thrive.
Businesses also have a number of concerns that could be addressed during that period.
We can expect intense lobbying efforts on both sides of the issue in the coming months, but even legalization group NORML was not upbeat about chances for approval, minus some outpouring of support.
Even the most enthusiastic backers of legal weed are not likely to gather by the hundreds or thousands in the time of Covid to push for legalization. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.