The House of Representatives in Delaware has approved a bill (HB 371) to legalize recreational cannabis possession and sharing between adults over the age of 21, advancing it to the Senate.
The legislation from Representative Ed Osienkski (D) passed in a 26-14 vote on May 5th, 2022. A complimentary bill (HB 372) is also moving through committee which will set up regulations for an adult-use market. Rep. Osienski filed both of these measures separately after they voted them down as a measure that included both components in March. Osienski's hope is that passing a legalization bill through the chamber with a majority will pressure lawmakers to support the separate proposal, rather than leave the new market unregulated.
“This bill ends over 50 years of prohibition and criminalization in Delaware and allows adults over the age of 21 to legally possess, consume, and freely share under one ounce of marijuana for personal use,” Osienski said before the vote.
What is HB 371
Adults age 21 and over would be able to legally purchased and possess up to one ounce of cannabis, as well as share up to one ounce of cannabis with other adults age 21 and over. The bill does specifically mention that cannabis cannot be given as a gift or exchanged for remuneration of any sort nor exchanged for goods or services.
What is HB 372
The complementary bill to HB 371 would help to set up a regulated market for cannabis in Delaware, first by having a cannabis commissioner appointed under the states Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement. This official would be tasked with the regulation of the industry and overseeing cultivators, retailers, labs, and manufacturers.
HB 372 would also include verbiage of the program of how licenses would be distributed, including a scored, competitive process, resulting in advantages given to those who pay workers a living wage, provide health insurance, and meet other program benchmarks.
Regulators would need to approve 30 retailer licenses, of which 15 would go to social equity applicants. These applicants would be defined as entities majority-owned by people with past cannabis convictions or who live an an area disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs (see what we are doing to help)
Under HB 372 home cultivation for personal use would continue to be prohibited.
“HB 371 will save thousands of Delawareans from police interactions and citations for simple cannabis possession. This is particularly important as adult-use sales begin in neighboring New Jersey,” Olivia Naugle, senior policy analyst with the Marijuana Policy Project says “We urge the Senate to stand with their constituents and also work to swiftly pass HB 371.”
HB 371 passing in the House is a huge step for Delaware recretational legalization, and the Handlers of Ethereal Gold Dispensary are hopeful that the passing will indeed be swift and Delaware can get on track to get a regulated, safe cannabis market in place.
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