Delaware House Committee Approves Cannabis Legalization Bill

A Delaware proposal to legalize adult-use cannabis passed the House Health & Human Development Committee and moves next to the Appropriations Committee.

Full story after the jump.

An adult-use cannabis bill passed out of the Delaware House Health and Human Development Committee on a mostly-party line vote, the Associated Press reports. Just one Republican voted with Democrats to move the proposal out of its first House committee.

Expected to move on to the Appropriations Committee next, the legislation would permit the possession of one ounce of cannabis for those over 21 but would not allow home cultivation. The bill would set up a manufacturing and distribution system and a 15% tax on retail sales, the report says.

State Rep. Ed Osienski (D) said the bill, “will create good-paying jobs for Delawareans while striking a blow against the criminal element which profits from the thriving illegal market” in the state.

Looking to nullify concerns around three previous versions of his bill, Osienski added a comprehensive business plan to cannabis license scoring and the creation of a “marijuana Justice Fund” that will be used to reinvest in communities most affected by the war on drugs. He also dropped a requirement that union labor be used in the building and operation of cannabis facilities. However, the bill includes an agreement where unions would not disrupt cannabis business operations with strikes or picketing but would be allowed to organize workers within a business.

Despite the changes, Democratic Gov. John Carney’s administration has concerns that lower license fees for adult-use businesses – when compared to medical cannabis licenses will attract operators from the medical cannabis sector which could possibly have an adverse impact on patients.

Agriculture officials have other concerns, including security for outdoor grows and questions about agency jurisdiction when it comes to crop production. Republicans in the Legislature also have concerns, with state Rep. Charles Postles (R), raising questions about teen access and brain development.

“Why would we want to saddle our kids and our grandkids and limit their potential, their lifelong earnings even, by exposing them to this harmful drug that would impair their brain development?” Postles said.

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