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Delaware Lawmakers Renew Effort To Legalize Pot

Last week, Delaware’s Democratic legislators performed an annual ritual: they introduced measures to legalize recreational cannabis.

According to recent traditions, the biggest hurdle for them is their state party’s most senior member. 

The Delaware News Journal reports that members of the state House of Representatives introduced a pair of bills on Friday “to legalize and create a recreational marijuana industry in Delaware, setting up a likely fight within the Democratic Party this legislative session.” 

The Democratic Governor is the center of an anticipated intra-party conflict. John Carney has been an opponent of marijuana legalization for many years and has stopped efforts by Democrats in Congress to abolish the prohibition. 

Carney rejected a bill last year that would have allowed recreational marijuana to be legalized in Pennsylvania. 

Despite holding a majority in each chamber of the state General Assembly, Democratic lawmakers were unable to override Carney’s veto.

“[The legalization bill] would, among other things, remove all penalties for possession by a person 21 years of age or older of one ounce or less of marijuana and ensure that there are no criminal or civil penalties for transfers without remuneration of one ounce or less of marijuana between persons who are 21 years of age or older,” Carney said in a statement following his veto.

“I recognize the positive effect marijuana can have for people with certain health conditions, and for that reason, I continue to support the medical marijuana industry in Delaware,” he continued. “I supported decriminalization of marijuana because I agree that individuals should not be imprisoned solely for the possession and private use of a small amount of marijuana—and today, thanks to Delaware’s decriminalization law, they are not.”

“That said, I do not believe that promoting or expanding the use of recreational marijuana is in the best interests of the state of Delaware, especially our young people,” Carney added. “Questions about the long-term health and economic impacts of recreational marijuana use, as well as serious law enforcement concerns, remain unresolved.”

The two state House bills were supported by Democrats last week. They are optimistic that Carney will reconsider.

“My hope is that with continued open dialogue with the governor’s office, that will help alleviate a veto,” Democratic state House Rep. Ed Osienski, one of the sponsors of the legislation, told the Delaware News Journal. “I have more support from my members … for a veto override, but I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that.”

The outlet, a “Carney spokeswoman said Friday that the governor’s views on marijuana have not changed.”

According to the Delaware News Journal, the bill dedicated to removing all penalties for possession would “require a simple majority or 21 votes.”

The other bill “would create a framework to regulate the growth, sale and possession of weed,” essentially treating pot like alcohol, and would require “a three-fifths vote because it deals with revenue and taxation,” the Delaware News Journal reports.

Additionally, the measures contain social equity provisions which aim to increase opportunities in new marijuana industries for people from areas that have historically been targeted by anti-drug policy.

The News JournalYou can find more information about the proposals here

“Delawareans would buy marijuana from a licensed retail marijuana store. Within 16 months, the bill will allow up to 30 retail licences to be issued. The process will be competitive, with prospective retailers being rewarded for providing good salaries and benefits and hiring a diverse workforce.”