The conversation about legalization in Delaware is just getting started.
While the House was set to vote Thursday on HB 150, an adult use legalization bill, its sponsor cancelled the vote, calling for additional time to consider the legislation amid ten proposed amendments.
One, for example, would strike language that establishes a Social Equity Fund, and “instead gives the Commissioner the authority to investigate opportunities for financial assistances that can be offered to social equity applicants.” Another would remove a requirement that business license applicants have labor agreements.
“House Bill 150 is an extremely important piece of legislation with many complicated moving parts. In recent days a number of amendments have been filed by myself and other legislators that would make significant changes to the bill as written. Accordingly, my colleagues and I need time to consider the implications of these various amendments before bringing the bill to the House floor for a vote,” Rep. Edward Osienski said in a statement shared with Cannabis Wire.
The bill faces a steep climb out of both the House and the Senate, and Gov. John Carney opposes legalization. When asked last month about his position on legalization, Carney told Delaware Public Media, “Look, I just don’t think it’s a good idea.”
The legalization push this session began in January with a report released by State Auditor Kathy McGuiness, titled “Millions in Revenue Anticipated from Legalizing Marijuana in Delaware,” which estimated that legalization could bring the state more than $43 million in new tax revenue each year.
“With neighboring states either legalizing it or considering doing so, taking action now is the only way to prevent Delaware from being at a competitive disadvantage in the future,” McGuiness said in a statement about the report. “The First State cannot and should not be the last state to approve legalization in the region.”
At that time, a flurry of legalization efforts were getting underway in state legislatures across the country, including in each of the states surrounding Delaware. Since then, neighboring states like Virginia and New York have passed adult use cannabis bills.
By March, Osienski unveiled the Delaware Marijuana Control Act with 23 sponsors. While the bill would legalize the purchase, possession, and use of cannabis for adults 21 and older, it would not allow for home cultivation. The bill would also create a Delaware Marijuana Control Act Oversight Committee that would help to oversee the industry. Cannabis sales would be taxed at 15%, but the bill does not determine where to send that revenue, instead leaving it up to the General Assembly.
(As Cannabis Wire has reported, the question of where, exactly, cannabis tax revenue should go has been a critical debate in most legislatures considering legalization this year, from New Mexico to New York.)
Osienski urged patience as he and other lawmakers hammer out the details on legalization.
“This is one piece of legislation that we have to get right, and I encourage my fellow legislators, advocates and supporters of the bill to please be patient as we continue to work toward the goal of legalizing marijuana for recreational use in Delaware,” he said.