Delaware takes a step closer to legalizing marijuana possession – NBC10 Philadelphia

The Delaware House voted Thursday on legislation legalizing the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults for recreational use.

The bill passed by a 26-14 vote in the Democrat-led House of Representatives and will now go to the Democrat-controlled Senate. Even if it passes both chambers, it faces a possible veto from Democratic Gov. John Carney, who has previously expressed doubts about legalizing recreational marijuana.

Under current law, possession of an ounce or less of marijuana by anyone 21 years of age or older is punishable by a $100 civil penalty. That provision would be removed 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 an ounce of marijuana and public use would remain misdemeanors.

The bill, passed Thursday, was introduced as stand-alone legislation in late March after a failed attempt to pass broader legislation to create a state-regulated and taxed marijuana industry.

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

Passing the legalization bill required only a simple majority, but legislation to create a state-licensed marijuana industry would require a three-fifths majority in each chamber because it would introduce a new tax.

Legislation that would have both legalized recreational marijuana use by adults and established a state-run marijuana industry was defeated in the House of Representatives in March. Members voted 23 to 14 in favor of the bill, but were short of two votes to a three-fifths majority. No Republican voted for this bill, and four lawmakers, including two Democrats, chose not to vote.

House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf of Rehoboth, a retired state trooper, was the only Democrat to vote against the bill. He also voted against the legalization bill Thursday, along with fellow Democrat Bill Bush of Dover and 12 of the 15 GOP officials.

Meanwhile, a separate Osienski-sponsored bill to create a state-run marijuana industry was approved by the Budget Committee on Revenue and Finance last month and awaits consideration by the Appropriations Committee.

Proponents of this legislation have argued that a state-controlled and licensed marijuana industry would curb the black market while creating jobs and boosting Delaware’s tax coffers. The bill would require the state to license and regulate a manufacturing and distribution industry and impose a 15% tax on retail sales. It would ban people from growing their own crops for subsistence.

Opponents have argued that legalization would lead to increased marijuana use among teens and young adults, make business owners liable and result in more road deaths and injuries. They also say it would do little to stop illegal sales.

The Associated Press reported in January that the legalization of marijuana in California has done little to deter black market sales in that state, and that some California licensees are also participating in the black market — roughly twice that, at an estimated $8 billion like the amount of legal sales – to make a profit.

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

https://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/politics/delaware-legalizing-marijuana-possession/3230077/ Delaware takes a step closer to legalizing marijuana possession – NBC10 Philadelphia

Sarah Y. Kim

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