Delaware Lawmakers to Hold Hearing Tomorrow on Proposal to Legalize Marijuana

DOVER, DE — The Delaware House Revenue and Finance Committee will hold a hearing tomorrow on a proposal to legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis for adults 21 and older.

It is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. ET in the House Chamber of Legislative Hall.

“A strong majority of Delawareans agree it is time to end cannabis prohibition,” said Olivia Naugle, legislative coordinator for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Current prohibition laws have failed, and Delaware deserves a more sensible and evenhanded cannabis policy.”

“Cannabis prohibition comes with a devastating and unjustifiable human and economic cost,” said Zoë Patchell of the Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network. “HB 110 is a good step in reversing decades of discriminatory, harmful, and fundamentally unfair cannabis laws.”

HB 110, sponsored by Rep. Ed Osienski and Sen. Trey Paradee, would make cannabis legal for adults 21 and older, replacing prohibition with a system of responsible regulation. Adults who are 21 and older could possess up to one ounce of cannabis, no more than five grams of which may be concentrated.

Beginning 30 days after the effective date, compassion centers could sell up to 3.5 grams of cannabis to adults, with strong protections to prevent shortages for patients. HB 110 would not affect the existing medical cannabis law, except that pre-existing licensed medical marijuana businesses receive priority in licensing.

During the transition period, the tax rate would be 25% and would later lower to 15%.

The proposed legislation also contains provisions to foster a just, equitable, and inclusive cannabis industry, as well as regulations to promote public health.

Licensees will be selected based on a scoring system that considers the applicants’ plans for social responsibility, which includes diversity goals, an environmental and sustainability plan, and an approach for creating a working environment with fair scheduling, family-supporting wages, and benefits.

Measures to support businesses owned by minorities, women, and veterans are also included.

Finally, convictions for simple possession of marijuana or paraphernalia from before December 18, 2015 will be eligible for mandatory expungement, provided the person has not been convicted of violent felonies.

“This bill proposes a sensible system in which cannabis is regulated similarly to alcohol,” says Olivia Naugle, legislative coordinator for the Marijuana Policy Project, a convening member of the Delaware Cannabis Policy Coalition. “It would ensure cannabis production and sales are conducted by licensed, taxpaying businesses rather than criminal enterprises. Most importantly, this legislation would improve public health and safety, but it would also have the bonus of generating significant new tax revenue for the state.

“Several states around the country have enacted similar laws and are finding that regulating cannabis for adult use works. In Colorado, teen use is down, the economy is booming, and cannabis consumers have access to a safe, tested product they can safely purchase in a regulated setting. Delaware can and should follow suit,” added Naugle.

A detailed summary of HB 110 is available from the Marijuana Policy Project.

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