Yo, what’s good? It’s your boy Dan and I’m here to bring you the latest on the legalization of cannabis in Delaware. The state just took some major steps towards ending prohibition with the passing of House Bill 1 and House Bill 2 in the Senate. HB 1 would legalize cannabis for adults, while HB 2 sets up a framework for regulated recreational marijuana sales. If these bills become laws, Delaware would be the 22nd state in the US to legalize adult-use cannabis.
Now, these bills gotta head to the desk of Governor John Carney, who last year vetoed a similar piece of legislation. But this time around, both houses of the Delaware legislature passed the bills with a veto-proof majority, making final passage all but guaranteed even if Carney doesn’t sign them into law.
This is some big news for the cannabis policy reform movement in the United States, especially in the Northeast where Delaware is one of the few holdouts. New Jersey and Maryland have already passed legislation to legalize cannabis for use by adults. Brian Vicente, founding partner at Vicente LLP, a cannabis and psychedelics law firm, said: “The impending passage of legalization in Delaware is a historic and important step towards establishing the Atlantic Seaboard as ground for legal adult cannabis regulation.”
However, one thing to note is that neither of these bills include any restorative justice provisions to expunge past convictions for cannabis-related offenses. This is something that many states have included in their marijuana legalization plans recently. Natalie Papillion, chief operating officer of the Last Prisoner Project, called out this lack of expungement measures in Delaware’s marijuana legalization plan.
She said: “Legalization alone cannot heal the wounds of prohibition. True justice demands legislation that provides record clearance and resentencing for those affected.”
Despite this concern, polling shows that nearly three-quarters of adults in Delaware support legalizing marijuana. Only 18% said that cannabis should remain illegal. Nearly 90% of Democratic respondents said they approve of cannabis legalization, while 73% of independent voters also said they support ending the prohibition of marijuana in the state. Less than half (47%) of Republicans said cannabis should continue to be against the law, while 42% of GOP respondents support legalization.
Olivia Naugle, senior policy analyst at the Marijuana Policy Project, said: “With this latest vote, the fight to legalize cannabis in Delaware is nearing the finish line. Cannabis policy reform has garnered widespread support among Delawareans for years.”
Attorney Vicente believes that the legalization of cannabis in Delaware could give additional support to the effort to legalize cannabis at the federal level. He noted that state lawmakers are increasingly in favor of reform.
He said: “Importantly, after this law passes, Delaware will send two U.S. Senators and one House member to Washington, D.C., with a clear mandate to pass federal reform.”
Before Tuesday’s vote in the Senate, Carney spokeswoman Emily Hershman said in a statement that the governor “continues to have strong concerns about the unintended consequences of legalizing marijuana for recreational use in our state, especially about the impacts on our young people and highway safety.”
While we wait to see if Carney signs these bills into law, it’s clear that Delaware is making big moves towards legalizing adult-use cannabis. This is an exciting time for everyone who supports cannabis policy reform and ending prohibition once and for all. Peace out, y’all!