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The Delaware statehouse in Dover, Delaware.

Jim Bowen

A cannabis legalization task force in Delaware suggests that the state could raise between $9 million and more than $70 million annually by taxing and regulating adult-use cannabis sales, according to a Delaware Public Media report. Advocates at the meeting suggested the state would see even more savings derived from a reduction in law enforcement spending related to cannabis enforcement, prescription drug costs, and fewer opioid-related deaths.

However, Republican state Rep. Stephen Smyk, a former state trooper, contended that cannabis legalization would create a broader drug addiction problem in the state.

“Everyone not just gonna stop their heroin use and say ‘Let me go smoke a doobie,’” he said in the report. “That’s not going to occur. In fact, it actually promotes the use because the people who are actually fighting the addiction where they’ve hit rock bottom, any backward motion – they’re going to trip up on that.”

Rep. Helene Keeley, the Democratic sponsor of a legalization measure and co-chair of the task force, suggested that the task force would ask the legislature to extend the deadline to deliver its recommendations on legalization to Feb. 28, 2018 because the meetings have sparked “other topics” that need to be further evaluated.

Last March, Keely and state Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, who has backed legalization efforts in the Senate, suggested that they had enough votes to pass the measure. The bill was moved from the House Revenue & Finance Committee in May and was added to the chamber’s “ready” list.

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