After Illinois became the 11th U.S. state to permit recreational marijuana, Delaware may be next in line as the 12th. This past week, a Delaware House committee gave the green light for a bill to legalize marijuana for adult use in the eastern U.S. state.
The new bill sponsored by state Rep. Ed Osienski (D), would allow adults over 21 to purchase an ounce of cannabis. The state would collect licensing fees and a 15 per cent tax on retail sales of cannabis from stores, while prohibiting ordinary citizens from growing cannabis in their private homes. The bill would also create an Office of Marijuana Control Commission.
The main arguments are similar to what we’ve seen in other States:
- creating jobs
- adding significant tax revenue
- eliminating jail time for non-violent marijuana use
- getting marijuana out of the hands of the black market
A similar marijuana bill failed last year, being just four votes shy from clearing Delaware’s House of Representatives. However, with more states legalizing since then, Delaware might see more support this time around.
The new bill is already seeing similar opposition from businesses and the health community speak out, who were vocal against the previous bill.
Dr. Mark Thompson, director with the Medical Society of Delaware, opposes the bill and said the legalization should be pushed to a later date “until further research is completed on public health, medical, economic and social consequences of its use.”
Thompson pointed out the U.S. federal government currently lists cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug with no potential medical use, and this makes comprehensive research nearly impossible to be done on the banned substance.
Even with emerging new studies and an abundance of anecdotal evidence suggesting cannabis could treat various ailments and holds potential healing properties, more concrete evidence is required to change the medical community’s overall perception.
But the more U.S. states push marijuana reform, the more opportunities will arise for clinical research. And with progress and public support on the issue at the state level, the more likely the federal government will be forced progress as well.
Cannabis bill likely needs more work before it becomes law
There are also challenges with the legislation itself. The bill, known as HB110, is getting lukewarm reception from legal cannabis supporters given the limit of possession of an one ounce seems small. There’s also strict limit on how many licenses can be issued on top of the mentioned ban on home cultivation, which Osienski has stated concerns of that creating an increased risk for children to access marijuana.
Because the bill will likely need revision, Osienski said he is willing to invest in the time to make necessary changes:
As second drafts are considered, Osienski believes it will take until next year before there is a vote on the issue. With New York and New Jersey recently failing to pass cannabis laws before the end of these state’s legislative sessions, supporters may also have to wait to see if Delaware can avoid similar struggles.