Marijuana legalization bills headed to governor’s desk


The Delaware Senate passed two marijuana legalization bills by a decisive margin. The measures go to Gov. John Carney who vetoed similar bills last year.

One bill that takes away penalties for possessing marijuana passed by a 16-4 margin, with the legalization and regulation bill passed by a 15-5 margin.

Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network (Delaware CAN) and Delaware NORML praised the Senate for moving forward with the legislation..

“Today’s vote was an important, long-awaited victory,” said Zoë Patchell of  Delaware CAN. “Following years of debate and delay, we are thankful that the General Assembly had the courage and resolve to overwhelmingly pass both bills and take this tangible step towards ending the harmful policy of cannabis prohibition in the First State.”

“Although the impact of prohibition is often disregarded or minimized, this public policy failure comes with an unjustifiable human and economic cost,” Patchell said. “Tens of thousands of Delawareans have had a simple cannabis offense over the last decade, while a small handful of lawmakers obstructed this publicly supported reform.”

“Delaware NORML commends the Senate for the swift passage of HB1 and HB2,” said Laura Sharer, Executive Director of Delaware NORML. “The advancement of these measures shows the citizens of Delaware that legislators are up to the task of implementing cannabis policy that is focused on advancing public health and social justice.”

HB 1 and HB 2 will head to Governor Carney’s desk. Carney vetoed a trimmed-down version of the measure last year, triggering the first vote on a veto override since 1990.  Several House members opted not to override the veto.

There has been no indication that Governor Carney’s position has changed on adult-use cannabis legalization.

This time around, the two bills passed both chambers of the General Assembly with enough votes to clear the three-fifths supermajority required to override a veto.

Advocacy groups Delaware CAN, Delaware NORML and Delaware Cannabis Policy Coalition are calling on Governor Carney to promptly sign the dual legislation into law or simply let the measure become law.

Delaware could become the twenty-second state to legalize cannabis for adults 21 and older, if  HB 1 and HB 2 become law.

A more muted reaction came from  The Delaware Cannabis Industry Association, a group representing medical marijuana interests.

The association issued the following:

“Today the Senate passed HB1 and HB2, which will legalize adult use of cannabis in Delaware. We applaud and support the legislature on taking this crucial step towards cannabis legalization in The First State. We also support and believe that Delaware must create a safe and well-regulated marketplace to ensure product safety, limit underage access, and not disrupt the established medical marijuana program that thousands of Delawareans count on for their medical needs. We want Delaware to learn from the faulty implementation that happened in other states, which included untested and unsafe products being sold on the illicit market, and take appropriate measures to regulate the industry. We hope to work with the General Assembly and the governor to create this regulated marketplace that provides access for adult use, while preserving the measures to regulate the industry.

The Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network has criticized the association’s lobbying efforts.

The regulation bill contains carve-outs for smaller businesses that would be able to sell marijuana.