From WHYY: Why won’t Delaware let medical dispensaries kick off retail weed sales?

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By Cris Barrish and Cal Ransom

When New Jersey and Maryland legalized retail sales of recreational marijuana, those states permitted medical dispensaries to be the first stores to sell weed to the general public.

Their neighbor Delaware, however, isn’t letting that happen. Instead, lawmakers created a laborious, lengthy process that would not set up a sales system until late 2024, perhaps even into 2025.

The new laws  allowing people age 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of weed and another creating a regulated growing, testing, manufacturing, and retail market expose users to somewhat of a legal conundrum.

Earlier versions of marijuana regulatory bills in Delaware would have allowed medical dispensaries to kick off recreational sales. That provision was removed, however, after opposition from medical users who worried that there would not be enough supply, bill sponsor state Rep. Ed Osienski said.

Osienski and Zoe Patchell of the Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network said the new law, although it delays the opening of retail stores, will ultimately create a stronger, more competitive market that will benefit users with decent prices.

Another reason retail sales will be delayed is that the state has not yet set up mechanisms to collect the 15% sales tax from the 30 retail licensees the law authorizes and to allow oversight audits of the businesses.

But Bill Rohrer, who owns The Farm, a medical marijuana company with two growing operations and two dispensaries, thinks Delaware’s approach to kicking off retail sales is just ludicrous.

He charges that while Delaware is creating regulations and going through the time-consuming licensing process, officials are allowing weed dealers to keep breaking the law instead of doing what New Jersey and Maryland did.

Rohrer, who said he’s a member of the new Delaware Association for Cannabis, says the state’s six medical marijuana licensees can easily help kick-start the retail market. In Rohrer’s view, medical providers can start retail sales in their dozen or so facilities while also seeking an official recreational retail license along with other applicants.

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