Delaware’s proposal to legalize weed received widespread support this week when the House Finance and Revenue Committee voted 10-2 in favor. The proposal still has a long way to go before it’s put into law. But the legislative actions taken this week could be the state’s first step toward full-scale legalization.
Delaware Could Make Weed Legal
As currently drafted, the proposal would let adults 21 and over buy up to an ounce of cannabis. Consumers would only be allowed to buy from a licensed dispensary. And the proposal would allow for several dozen retail stores throughout the state.
The entire industry would be regulated and taxed by the state of Delaware. Taxes would go to a variety of state agencies and programs.
A lot of Delaware’s proposal is similar to other states that have legalized weed. But there is one notable difference. While most weed-legal states let people grow their own cannabis, Delaware’s proposal would not.
After this week’s vote, the proposal will move on to the next round of legislation. According to early reports, it is likely that lawmakers will work to revise and tweak aspects of the proposal.
From there, it will move on to a vote in the full House of Representatives. The goal is to get it on the table sometime next month.
A Controversial Issue
Although the proposal received overwhelming support by the committee this week, it is actually a relatively controversial issue. The committee’s vote came at the tail end of a nearly two-hour-long debate about legalization.
During the debate, nearly three dozen people spoke. Doctors, researchers, activists, medical marijuana patients, and politicians were among those who spoke. Those who support the proposal said that legalizing weed will help decrease crime and improve the economy.
“Who should control this profitable cash crop and which market will benefit from the proceeds and the jobs?” said Zoe Patchell, president of the Cannabis Bureau of Delaware. “The dangerous, violently territorial criminal market which creates crime and violence or the state and law abiding business owners which will create jobs and revenue for Delaware?”
Those opposed to the idea are afraid it will harm public health. “Legalizing the recreational use of marijuana is a serious departure from evidence-based policy making and carries with it risks of adverse health and safety consequences for Delawareans,” said Prayus Taylor, head of the Medical Society of Delaware.
The Rising Tide of Legal Weed
Delaware’s path to legal weed is an interesting one. State laws bar the proposal from going to a popular vote. Instead, it must be decided entirely through legislation.
This puts Delaware on the same path as Vermont. Last week, the Vermont Senate voted to move forward with a bill to make weed legal. And earlier this week, the House also approved it.
The bill is now awaiting the final signature from Governor Phil Scott. According to Vermont laws, he has five business days to decide if he will sign the bill or veto it. That means that he is supposed to act sometime this week.
If Scott signs the bill into law, Vermont will be the first state in the U.S. to legalize recreational weed strictly through legislative efforts.
Both Vermont and Delaware are part of a rising tide of legal weed. Last fall, California, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Maine all legalized cannabis. Additionally, four other states approved new medical marijuana laws.