DE: Marijuana Task Force To Tackle Safety, Local Control Today

Ron Strider

Well-Known Member
How would a legalized marijuana industry in Delaware function?

A 25-member task force charged with answering that question will roll up its sleeves Wednesday and begin discussing some of the more pressing issues around that question.

The Adult Use Cannabis Task Force will hold its second meeting at 10 a.m. in Legislative Hall in Dover.

Today's agenda is expected to cover both consumer safety measures and the ability of towns to exert their own control and authority over marijuana sales and possession.

Six people are slated to give presentations during the two-hour session. They include representatives from the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, the state Division of Public Health, the Delaware Pharmacist Society, the state Department of Safety and Homeland Security and members of the Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network from Kent and Sussex counties.

Today's hearing is one of five the task force is expected to hold by the end of the year. The panel of legal marijuana advocates, opponents and public officials is slated to present its findings to Gov. John Carney and the General Assembly before Jan. 31.

Its final report could bolster or sink efforts to pass legislation that would make Delaware the ninth state to legalize recreational marijuana possession and use.

A marijuana legalization bill co-sponsored by state Rep. Helene Keeley, D-South Wilmington, and state Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, D-Wilmington, was voted out of a House committee last spring.

The proposed Delaware Marijuana Control Act would allow people 21 and older to purchase up to 1 ounce of cannabis from dozens of stores authorized to sell cannabis manufactured at a number of locally based grow operations.

The measure never got a full vote in the chamber and its sponsors ultimately settled for a task force to study how marijuana legalization could be implemented in Delaware.

Even with that task force's final report in hand, passing a bill to legalize marijuana will be a tall order.

The legislation would need support from two-thirds of both the House and the Senate, a supermajority required to create new misdemeanor criminal offenses for using a fake ID to purchase marijuana. Reaching that bar would require votes from both Democrats and Republicans.

"I think I'm very close," Keeley said in September when asked about the bill's chances in the House. "But I don't want it to just pass. My goal is to have as many people vote for it [as possible] and convince them this is the right thing to do."

Delaware legalized medical marijuana in 2011 and decriminalized cannabis in 2015 — downgrading possession of up to 1 ounce from a criminal offense to a civil violation, like a parking ticket.

A poll conducted by the University of Delaware last year found that more than 60 percent of state residents support full legalization of marijuana.

Carney, however, has voiced his opposition to full legalization at this time, saying Delaware should study the impact in other states before taking action. The governor also has argued more time is needed to fully implement decriminalization and the state's medical marijuana law.

But he has been willing to hear from both sides of the issue, having held roundtable discussions with both supporters and opponents of legalization last spring.

All eight states that previously legalized marijuana did so through a voter referendum, something the Delaware Constitution does not allow. Last spring, Vermont became the first state to approve a recreational marijuana bill through its Legislature, a measure later vetoed by that state's Republican governor.


News Moderator: Ron Strider 420 MAGAZINE ®
Full Article: Marijuana task force to tackle safety, local control today
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