Pro-legalization advocates succeeded in pushing legislation forward in the state of Delaware, as a bill to legalize marijuana passed the first committee hearing last Wednesday. House Bill 150 (HB 150) was voted upon by the Health and Human Development Committee, passing, with 10 votes in favor and 5 votes against.
“This act allows adults over the age of 21 to legally possess and consume under one ounce of marijuana for personal use and creates the legal framework to license and regulate a new industry that will create well-paying jobs for Delawareans while striking a blow against the criminal element, which profits from the thriving illegal market in our state,” said representative Ed Osienski (D), the representative who filed HB 150.
What Marijuana Regulatory Considerations Are Included in Delaware HB 150?
Included in HB 150 are the proposed tax rate and regulations on the sale of cannabis in the state. According to HB 150, cannabis sales would be taxed at a 15% rate. Written into the bill are also provisions to expunge past marijuana convictions and allow them to establish businesses under the category of social equity. If approved, HB 150 would allow regulators to approve up to 30 cannabis business licenses, 30 manufacturing licenses, 60 cultivation licenses and 5 laboratory testing licenses in the first 16 months of operation.
Regarding the license approval process, Osienski said “Half of the first round of retail licenses and testing licenses, and a third of the cultivation and manufacturing licenses, will be awarded to the pool of social equity applicants.”
Criticisms of Delaware HB 150 Based in Anti-Pot Anxieties
While there is support for the bill, opposition to cannabis legalization remains strong in the state of Delaware. Among the critics of the bill include governor John Carney (D), who “still has concerns about legalizing recreational marijuana.”
Wednesday’s hearing was used by Republican senators Rich Collins and Ruth Briggs King to voice dissent against the bill. “These plants are worth—just one plant, thousands of dollars. The amount of corruption that will come about is beyond our imagining” said Collins during the hearing.
Other criticisms included the possible cannabis use among minors, increases in DUI incidents and complications between state and federal law.
Despite this criticism, advocates for HB 150 remain optimistic.
“A strong majority of Delawareans agree it is time to end cannabis prohibition and legalize cannabis for adults. The committee’s approval of HB 150 today shows that elected officials increasingly agree. We hope the full House will also follow the will of their constituents and the committee’s lead by taking up and approving HB 150. Prohibition has failed, and Delaware deserves a more sensible and equitable cannabis policy” said Olivia Naugle, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project.
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