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Delaware Lawmakers move on with Marijuana Legalization Bill
A recent Marijuana Bill in Delaware revises the current legislature to allow cannabis use for adults over the age of 21 without penalty. The end of pot prohibition comes as a relief as the past year held the bill dead while disagreements over funding continued amongst lawmakers. Edward Osienski attempted to make the bill happen last year as House sponsor however, the vote was postponed and it seemed like there were no answers as the House reviewed new amendments.
Revising the Marijuana Control Act: House Bill 150
House Bill 150 amends titles of the Delaware code regulating the Marijuana Control Act. Stating that prohibition inadequately controls the substance, the General Assembly of the State of Delaware enacted the bill to address the illegal market and essentially, eliminate it with marijuana legalization. Allowing access to legal marijuana, the General Assembly of Delaware ensures a framework to regulate the marajuana market creating thousands of jobs and revenue.
House Bill 150 means the end of marijuana prohibition for all Delaware residents over the age of 21 regulating it like alcohol. The new bill would also address criminal justice and recognize blacks are more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession compared to whites. Despite the fact that white individuals have equal rates of cannabis use, they are four times less likely to face charges.
Features of House Bill No. 150 include:
- 21+ adults can purchase and possess up to one ounce of cannabis (including up to 5 grams of concentrates).
- People cannot grow marijuana plants at home
- Marijuana and alcohol tax with be similar
- There is no cannabis home delivery
- Cannabis use by minors is illegal
The house bill was an attempt by Rep. Edward Osienski to strengthen the bill over time. His efforts appear to address the concerns of the people and industry. Recently Osienski told The Delaware New Journal he is “ … sorry that it didn’t happen this year, but I think it’s going to be a better bill.” He also stated that this proposal would, “create good-paying jobs for Delawareans while striking a blow against the criminal element which profits from the thriving illegal market in our state.”
The Final Step to Legalizing Marijuana in Delaware
House Bill 305 includes direct attempts from rep Osienski to fix anything that may take more time to pass the vote. Essentially the Delaware Marijuana Control Act is defined in this new version of House Bill 305 and it just may be the final word on pot prohibition in Delaware.
House Bill 305 will:
- Remove penalties under the Uniform Controlled Substances Act
- Eliminate penalty for adults who possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana
- Penalize individuals under the age of 21
- Redefine state safety compliance facilities
- Expand Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement’s duties to the Delaware Marijuana Control Act
Created as an act to amend the code related to the Delaware Marijuana Control Act, the House Bill 305 contains numerous notable highlights. For example, the bill includes a title which states that under the new Marijuana Control Act, cannabis products may not be sold in an establishment licensed to sell alcohol. Another title prohibits the use of marijuana in public.
House Bill No. 305 also states:
- Use by drivers or passengers in vehicles is prohibited.
- Smoking of marijuana is prohibited anywhere tobacco or e-cigarettes is not permitted.
- Consumers can identify the amount of marijuana in different products.
- Possession of marijuana is removed from the list of activities that prohibits a person from at the same time possessing a handgun.
- Product regulations must also contain security requirements, testing requirements, advertising restrictions, and require that food products comply with State food safety laws.
- Directs 7% of the marijuana tax revenue to a Justice Reinvestment Fund to be used to restore communities harmed by “war on drug” policies.
If you are confused by the new House Bills, consider that House Bill 105 is an amendment to the original attempt to pass the Marijuana Control Act and legalize cannabis use for adults in Delaware. Over time, the attempts to pass the bill continued to halt lawmakers from a final passing two-thirds vote. Basically, House Bill 105 improves and solidifies House Bill 305 so that it meets the high standards of the House while addressing the lengthy list of must-haves for the marijuana customers and the cannabis industry.
The Bill Passes to End Pot Prohibition
Marijuana legalization for Delawareans requires up-to-date legislation including an amended Marijuana Control Act. The attempts to end pot prohibition have been long supported by citizens and the House however, a final vote could not be reached. The existing medical cannabis law will not be affected by House BIll 305 however, people over the age of 21 may possess and use marijuana. The final word on the Marijuana Control Act includes specific provisions for categories including adult use, state licensing, taxation, employers, private property, conduct and penalties, public health, medical cannabis law, as well on how to create a responsible and inclusive cannabis industry. Finally, on Wednesday the House of Health and Human Development Committee passed the Bill along with a 10 – 4 vote.
Olivia Naugle, senior policy analyst for Marijuana Policy Project said “The House Human Development committee’s approval of HB 305 today is the first step towards bringing equitable legalization to the state this year. Delaware has the opportunity to join 18 other states and DC that have legalized cannabis for adults—including their neighbor, New Jersey. It is past time for the legislature to listen to their constituents and meet the moment.”
The House Bill 305 is sponsored by Rep Ed Osienski to legalize cannabis replacing the current Marijuana Control Act with a working system. After 19 months House Bill 350 is long overdue however, it has cleared the first threshold to pass. It will still require a maturity of 60 percent but supportive lawmakers continue to work hard pushing the bill through the legislative process.