(From the Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network)
At midnight tonight, Delaware will join 21 other states and three U.S. territories by passing a law to legalize an adult-use cannabis (marijuana) market. A bill that took away penalties for possessing small quantities.
House Bill 2, which will go into effect without Governor Carney’s signature, establishes the legal framework for a cannabis industry with a focus on local, small business and legacy (medical) participation.
The legislation also creates a justice reinvestment fund from 7% of the tax revenue collected on legal sales, earmarked for communities that the enforcement of cannabis prohibition has disproportionately impacted data shows. It establishes both standardized consumer safety measures and robust underage-use prevention provisions.
(Setting up a regulatory system and awarding licenses is expected to take a year and a half).
Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network Executive Director and Delaware cannabis movement co-founder Zoë Patchell hailed the passage of both bills as a “major milestone,” and praised the leadership of sponsors Representative Ed Osienski and Senator Trey Paradee.
“Today marks the end of nearly nine decades of bad public policy that has led to unconscionable human and economic costs, and ushers in the beginning of an evidence-based policy that paves the way to redress the inherently discriminatory, harmful, and unfair effects that cannabis prohibition has had on people and communities across the First State,” Patchell said. “House Bill 1 and House Bill 2, will also generate thousands of well-paying jobs and business opportunities in both direct and ancillary fields while ensuring that the communities that have borne the brunt of enforcement, as well as local, small-business entrepreneurs, are not left out of Delaware’s fledgling industry.”
The legislation establishes four categories of licenses, including cultivation, manufacturing, laboratory, and retail, to comprise the new industry. ‘Open’ and ‘social equity’ licenses are offered in all four categories, and a special group of ‘micro licenses’ are available for both cultivation and manufacturing.
Seventy-seven) of the initial 125 (one hundred and twenty-five) permits offered in the first licensing round require Delaware residency, stipulating that applicants must have resided in Delaware for five out of the last ten years to be eligible to apply.
Patchell said that HB 2 legalizes dozens of glass artists and pre-existing businesses throughout the state, like ‘head shops’ and other tobacco shop retailers, that are currently operating in a gray area of the law by selling or creating cannabis accessories, previously described as drug paraphernalia.
“Beginning at midnight tonight, glass blowers, cannabis accessory store owners, and tobacco shops across Delaware will no longer be forced to pretend that the products they sell, like bongs, bowls and blunt wraps, are used for “tobacco use only,” Patchell said.
Prior to the enactment of House Bill 2, selling or manufacturing cannabis accessories was a class G felony offense punishable by up to two years in prison.
“The vast social and economic impact of cannabis legalization is largely minimized and understated,” Patchell said. “This is a historic, long-awaited victory for the people of Delaware, who have overwhelmingly supported this commonsense policy reform for the past decade.”
Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network is an all-volunteer advocacy group that has been around since 2013.