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Thursday, December 08, 2022

Marijuana Legalization Bill Approves Delaware House

DOVER, Dell ( Associated Press) – The Delaware House voted Thursday to approve a bill legalizing possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for recreational use by adults.

The law is approved by a 26–14 vote to the Democrat-led House and now goes to the Senate, which is also controlled by the Democrats. Even if it were to pass both chambers, it faced a potential veto from the Democratic government. John Carney, who previously expressed doubts about legalizing recreational marijuana.

Under current law, possession of one ounce or less of marijuana by anyone age 21 or older carries a civil penalty of $100. That provision would be scrapped under the bill approved on Thursday.

Possession of recreational marijuana by anyone under the age of 21 would still result in a civil penalty, while possession of more than one ounce of marijuana and public consumption would remain misdemeanors.

The bill, approved on Thursday, was introduced as stand-alone law in late March after a failed attempt to pass a sweeping law that would make the state-regulated and tax marijuana industry.

“Delaware is more than capable of successfully implementing policies for safe and legal cannabis,” said main bill sponsor Rep. Ed Osensky, a Newark Democrat, in a statement after Thursday’s vote. “I am grateful to the House for passing this bill and look forward to continuing this effort until Delaware is ready to establish a new, legal industry in our state.”

Passage of the legalization bill requires only a simple majority, but the law creating the state-licensed marijuana industry would require a three-fifths majority vote in each chamber because it would establish a new tax.

Legislation legalizing recreational marijuana use by adults and establishing a state-run pot industry was defeated in the House in March. Members voted 23–14 in favor of the law, but it fell two votes short of a three-fifths majority. No Republican voted in favor of that bill, and four lawmakers, including two Democrats, chose not to vote.

House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf of Rehoboth, a retired state soldier, was the only Democrat to vote against that bill. He voted against the legalization bill on Thursday, along with fellow Democrat Bill Bush of Dover and 12 of the GOP’s 15 delegates.

Meanwhile, a separate bill sponsored by Osinsky to create a state-run marijuana industry cleared the House Revenue and Finance Committee last month and is awaiting consideration by the Appropriations Committee.

Proponents of that law have argued that a state-controlled and licensed pot industry would curb the black market while creating jobs and increasing Delaware’s tax coffers. The bill calls on the state to license and oversee the manufacturing and distribution industry and to levy a 15% tax on retail sales. It would prohibit people from growing their own plants for personal consumption.

Opponents have argued that legalization would increase marijuana use among teens and young adults, expose business owners to liability, and result in more traffic deaths and injuries. They also say it will do little to eliminate illegal sales.

The Associated Press reported in January that the legalization of marijuana in California had done little to discourage black market sales in that state, and that some California licensees are simultaneously participating in the black market — an estimated value of $ 8 billion, which is almost double. Legal sales – to make a profit.

Currently, recreational marijuana use is permitted in 18 states and the District of Columbia.

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