Delaware Senate Passes Marijuana Legalization Bills: What You Need to Know

The Delaware state Senate has voted in favor of two marijuana legalization bills, which could lead to the creation of a legal recreational marijuana industry in the state. The bills now await the signature of Governor John Carney, who vetoed similar legislation last year. Here’s what you need to know.

Bill #1: Legalizes Possession of Marijuana for Adults

One of the bills would legalize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and older, as well as equivalent amounts in other forms such as concentrates. Under the bill, underage possession would result in fines, and public marijuana use remains illegal. The bill passed the state Senate by a vote of 16-4, with one abstention.

Bill #2: Creates a Regulatory Framework for Legal Recreational Marijuana

The other bill, known as the Delaware Marijuana Control Act, creates a regulatory framework for a legal recreational marijuana industry in the state. It would allow up to 30 retailers and a 15% tax on sales, in a system that is comparable to alcohol sales. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 15-5 with one abstention, surpassing the three-fifths majority needed to advance.

Governor Carney’s Concerns

Following the vote, Governor Carney’s office issued a statement expressing his concerns about marijuana legalization. According to Emily Hershman, Carney’s director of communications, “The governor continues to have strong concerns about the unintended consequences of legalizing marijuana for recreational use in our state, especially about the impacts on our young people and highway safety.”

Opposition from State Sen. Bryant Richardson

State Sen. Bryant Richardson (R., Laurel) headed up opposition against the measures in the Senate, stating that legalization would increase traffic accidents and violence, and worsen mental illness. However, chief Senate sponsor Trey Paradee (D., Dover) argued that a majority of Delawareans support marijuana legalization and believe it to be less harmful than other legal drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco.

What Happens Next?

The bills now need to be signed by Governor Carney in order to become law. However, Carney’s veto blocked similar legislation last year, and he has already expressed concerns about the potential consequences of legalizing recreational marijuana in the state. The bills’ primary sponsor, Representative Ed Osienski, has expressed optimism that the bills will be signed into law this year, and that there will be enough support to override a potential veto.

Are you in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana in Delaware? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below.

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