Cannabis legalization bill goes to Delaware government

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DOVER, Delaware (AP) — The Delaware State Senate on Thursday gave final approval to a bill legalizing the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults for recreational purposes.

The legislation cleared the Democratic-led Senate in a 13-7 vote. Sen. Bruce Ennis of Smyrna, a retired state trooper, was the only Democrat to join Republicans in opposing the law Project. The bill passed the Democratic-controlled House in a 26-14 vote last week.

The measure now falls to Democratic Gov. John Carney, who has previously spoken out against legalizing recreational marijuana but has not said whether he would veto a legalization bill.

“We will review the bill, but the governor’s position has not changed,” Carney spokeswoman Emily David said after Thursday’s vote.

Under current law, possession of one ounce or less of marijuana by anyone 21 or older is punishable by a civil fine of $100. The bill eliminates this provision. Recreational possession of marijuana by someone under 21 would still attract a civil penalty, while possession of more than one ounce of marijuana and public consumption would remain misdemeanors. The bill also allows an adult to “transfer,” but not sell for payment or other consideration, one ounce or less of marijuana to another adult.

The bill was introduced in late March as stand-alone legislation after an unsuccessful effort to pass broader legislation creating a state-regulated and taxed marijuana industry. Passing the legalization bill only needed a simple majority, but the legislation creating a state-licensed marijuana industry requires a three-fifths majority vote in each house because it would establish a new tax . Marijuana advocates have been unable to overcome this hurdle.

A separate bill to create a state-run marijuana industry has been approved by two House committees and awaits consideration by the full House.

Senators passed the legalization bill after rejecting a GOP amendment that would have delayed its effective date until Delaware law enforcement officials could confirm the existence and availability of an accurate test to determine if someone is under the influence of marijuana.

Senator Trey Paradee of Dover, the Senate’s lead sponsor of the legalization bill, said police are already trained to recognize when someone is under the influence, and it’s ‘obvious’ when someone one is stoned.

“Anyone who raised a teenager can probably tell,” Paradee said, adding that if marijuana were a gateway drug, as some naysayers and medical researchers have claimed, “we’d have a room full of heroin addicts.”

Republicans pointed out that many of Paradee’s remarks were not about the legalization bill, but about the purported benefits of having a state-run marijuana industry.

“What Sen. Paradee said…is for the next bill,” said Sen. Colin Bonini, noting that there’s no guarantee that complementary legislation will pass.

“We might as well call it the ‘Law Encouraging Unlawful Behavior’ because where are you going to get it? You are going to go to a drug dealer,” added Bonini, a Republican from Dover. “It’s the cart before the horse.”

Paradee, who previously noted that “drug gangs and cartels” profit from marijuana sales, said he shared some of Bonini’s concerns and that if the companion bill establishing a state-run industry was not passed before the end of the June 30 legislative session, he would ask Carney to veto the legalization bill.

Paradee told fellow lawmakers that if they believe in freedom and human rights, they should support the legalization bill, failing to mention that it doesn’t allow Delawares to grow their own plants. of marijuana.

The bill to create a state-run pottery industry would also ban people from growing their own plants for personal consumption. Instead, the state would license and oversee a manufacturing and distribution industry and levy a 15% tax on retail sales. Proponents argue that the legislation would reduce the black market, create jobs and increase state revenue.

Opponents argue that legalization would lead to increased marijuana use among teens and young adults, expose business owners to liability and lead to more deaths and injuries on the roads. They also say it would do little to eliminate illegal sales.

The Associated Press reported in January that California’s legalization of marijuana has done little to discourage black market sales in that state, and that some California licensees are concurrently participating in the black market – the value of which estimated at $8 billion is roughly double the amount of legal sales – in order to make a profit.

Currently, recreational marijuana use is legal in 18 states and the District of Columbia.

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