Delaware Senators Push House-Passed Marijuana Sales Law To Cabinet Together Along With Legalization Measure!
On Thursday, a second Delaware Senate committee approved a bill that had been passed by the House to create a regulated market for marijuana use by adults. This bill will now go to the floor, where a separate bill to legalize possession is also set to be voted on.
Rep. Ed Osienski (D) is the one who came up with the ideas, and both of them passed through a separate Senate committee on Wednesday after being approved by the full House. Now, the Senate Finance Committee has also approved the regulations bill, which needed a second stop because it has financial parts.
Sen. Trey Paradee (D), who is in charge of the committee, is pushing the bill through the Senate. During an earlier hearing on Wednesday, he told the Senate Health and Social Services Committee that the state’s current law, which only makes low-level cannabis possession legal, isn’t enough.
“The arrests have gone on, and as a result, lives have been turned upside down,” he said. “Even though the civil offense isn’t as bad as an arrest, the citations can’t be erased and still show up in public record searches. Due to citations showing up on background checks, this gap has caused a number of Delawareans to miss out on life-changing job opportunities.
He said that ongoing enforcement hurts people of color more than people of other races, and he added that Delaware is becoming more of “an island of prohibition” as neighboring states move to change their laws about marijuana. The House sponsor, Osienski, took a similar two-pronged approach to the reform last session, and the legislature passed the basic legalization proposal but narrowly defeated the regulation measure.
Gov. John Carney (D) vetoed the old bill, and the House didn’t have to vote for an override. Marijuana Moment is keeping track of more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics, and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year.
Patrons who give at least $25 per month get access to our interactive maps, charts, and hearing calendar so they don’t miss anything. The sponsor recently told 47 ABC News that if the governor tries to veto the bill again this time, he’s “optimistic” and feels “pretty good” that they have enough votes to override him.
“I think my colleagues are saying, ‘Okay, you had one chance to veto this, you did, and you were successful, but don’t count on us supporting that veto again,'” he said. Both the simple legalization bill and the sales regulation bill passed the House this month with more than enough votes to override any possible veto.
Here’s what the HB 1 legalization bill would do:
- State law would be changed to allow adults over 21 to own, use, share, and buy up to one ounce of cannabis.
- To stop people from abusing the “gifting” rule, the bill says that “adult sharing” does not include giving away cannabis “at the same time as another transaction between the same parties,” like an exchange of a non-marijuana item.
- The public use of cannabis and growing it would still be against the law.
- People under 21 who do this could get a civil penalty of up to $100 for a first offense. The police could issue a ticket instead of that fine, though.
Here’s an overview of the key provisions of the HB 2 regulatory bill:
- The bill would set up a basic framework for a regulated system of cannabis sales for adults in the state.
- Through a new Office of Marijuana Control Commissioner, the Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement (DATE) would be responsible for regulating the market.
- During the first 16 months of implementation, regulators could give up to 30 licenses to sell cannabis in stores.
- Applicants who show they’d offer a living wage, health insurance, sick and paid leave, and a focus on diversity in hiring would get more points in the licensing scoring process.
- Seven percent of the money from marijuana business fees would go to a “Justice Reinvestment Fund.” This fund supports restorative justice, workforce development, technical help for people who are economically disadvantaged, and more.
- This money would also go toward “creating or developing technology to help with the restoration of civil rights and the erasure of criminal records.” But the law itself doesn’t provide for automatic expungements.
- In addition to traditional retail, cultivator, manufacturer, and laboratory licenses, the bill would also provide for social equity and microbusiness licenses (reserved for applicants with majority ownership by Delaware residents).
- Local ordinances would be able to stop marijuana businesses from operating in their area.
- A 15% sales tax would be put on marijuana sales to adults. Medical marijuana products would not be taxed.
Advocates of the bill are becoming more optimistic about its chances since last year’s election added more progressive lawmakers to the legislature. Regional changes, like the fact that other states are legalizing, are also putting pressure on Delaware lawmakers. Because the regulatory bill has tax parts, it needs a three-fifths majority of lawmakers to pass.
The basic legalization measure just needs a simple majority. In the last session, Osienski made the smart decision to split up the measures. This was because an earlier proposal that included both parts was rejected by the House because it didn’t get the required three-fifths vote.
Last week, soon after the House passed the latest versions of the legalization bills, the Senate passed a resolution that asks the state’s congressional representatives to support legislation to end the federal prohibition of cannabis. Separately, in October, Carney vetoed a narrower bill that would have made it clear that medical marijuana patients are not prohibited by state law from buying, owning, or transferring guns.
A poll from that month shows that a large majority of Delaware voters support legalizing marijuana. This includes nearly three in four Democrats, who support the change that the state’s Democratic governor vetoed last year.