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Delaware Legalization: Adult-Use Cannabis Defies Governor Carney’s Veto

Delaware Governor John Carney has decided to allow pending legislation that legalizes recreational cannabis in the state to become law without his signature.

The two pieces of legislation, House Bill 1 and House Bill 2, were passed by the General Assembly with a veto-proof majority prompting the Governor to forgo vetoing them and instead allow them to become law without his approval. By doing so, Delaware becomes the 22nd state in the U.S. to legalize adult-use marijuana and set up a regulated industry.

Delaware House Bill 1

House Bill 1 removes all penalties for using or possessing a personal use quantity of marijuana and marijuana accessories. It further specifies that the adult sharing of a personal use quantity or less of marijuana is a legal activity for those 21 or older and that those 21 or older may possess, use, display, purchase, or transport accessories and personal use quantities of marijuana without penalty.

When transporting in a vehicle, those items must be in a closed container or otherwise not readily accessible to anyone inside the vehicle.

The statute also specifies certain activities which remain unlawful. Finally, the definition of “personal use quantity” of marijuana is updated to include not only 1 ounce or less of leaf marijuana but also equivalent amounts of marijuana product in other forms.

Delaware House Bill 2

House Bill 2 legalizes the sale and taxation of adult-use cannabis, provides for the licensure of cannabis businesses, and institutes a new tax enforcement system. Adult-use license holders will be able to cultivate, process, store, transport, and sell cannabis within the state.

The bill also outlines local control provisions allowing municipalities to opt out of or limit certain cannabis business activities.

The Delaware Marijuana Control Act regulates and taxes marijuana for recreational use in the same manner as alcohol. In addition, it creates a framework for the production, manufacture, and sale of the legal recreational marijuana industry.

  • Permits individuals over age 21 to possess, use, purchase, or transport 1 ounce (28 grams) or less of marijuana, no more than 5 grams of which may be concentrated.
  •  Creates the Delaware Marijuana Control Act Oversight Committee. This Oversight Committee will coordinate the implementation of this Act with the Medical Marijuana Program, the Division of Public Health, the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, and the public.
  •  Creation of the Regulation Fund, the Regulation Fund will comprise fees collected, penalties imposed, and taxes collected under this Act. It creates the marijuana control enforcement tax on retail marijuana in the amount of 15%. 7% of the tax revenue collected will be allocated to the Justice Reinvestment Fund, under the management of the Department of Justice, where it will be used for projects to improve the quality of life for communities most impacted by the prohibition of marijuana and “war on drugs” era policies.
  •  It prohibits using marijuana in public by drivers or passengers in vehicles and prohibits smoking marijuana anywhere smoking tobacco, or e-cigarettes is prohibited. Marijuana may not be sold in an establishment licensed to sell alcohol.

Governor John Carney’s Statements on House Bills 1 & 2

The Governor had previously vetoed both bills when they were initially brought forward for his consideration but decided to allow them to become law this time around without his signature due to a veto-proof majority from both chambers of the General Assembly.

In his statement, he acknowledged that “public opinion has changed” on marijuana and that while he is still personally opposed to recreational cannabis use, he must reflect the majority’s will.

“In the coming days, I will allow House Bill 1 and House Bill 2 to be enacted into Delaware law without my signature. These two pieces of legislation remove all state-level civil and criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession and create a highly regulated industry to conduct recreational marijuana sales in Delaware. As I’ve consistently said, I believe the legalization of recreational marijuana is not a step forward. I support both medical marijuana and Delaware’s decriminalization law because no one should go to jail for possessing a personal use quantity of marijuana. And today, they do not.”

“I remain concerned about the consequences of a recreational marijuana industry in our state. I’m concerned especially about the potential effects on Delaware’s children, on the safety of our roadways, and on our poorest neighborhoods, where I believe a legal marijuana industry will have a disproportionately negative impact. Those concerns are why I could not put my signature to either House Bill 1 or House Bill 2.

So, here we have John Carney, an elected Governor, repeating long disproven reefer madness propaganda. Thankfully this legislation was passed with such a majority that he doesn’t have the power to veto these bills and usurp the will of the people of Delaware.

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