Democratic lawmakers in Delaware are once again pushing for the legalization of marijuana in the state, introducing bills on Friday that would establish a state-licensed recreational industry.
The bills propose to legalize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults 21 years or older, and create a regulated industry in Delaware. This attempt follows a failed attempt in June, where a legalization bill was vetoed by Democratic Governor John Carney. However, with the recent election of several new progressive Democrats, chief bill sponsor Rep. Ed Osienski is optimistic that he now has enough votes to pass the legalization bill.
Carney and House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf remain opposed to legalization, but Osienski believes that with the support of the new members, the legalization bill will pass.
The industry bill, which would require a three-fifths supermajority, calls for state officials to issue up to 30 initial retail marijuana licenses, 30 manufacturing licenses, 60 cultivation licenses, and five testing licenses.
The bill also includes special license pools for "social equity" and "microbusiness" applicants. However, residents would be prohibited from growing their own plants for personal consumption. Osienski argues that the industry bill would create good-paying jobs, generate tax revenue, and reduce illegal sales.
Opponents of the bill argue that legalization and the creation of a state marijuana industry would lead to increased marijuana use among teens and young adults, expose business owners to liability, and result in more traffic deaths and injuries.
They also say it would do little to eliminate illegal sales. Supporters argue that neither bill would change laws regarding driving under the influence and that public consumption of marijuana would be prohibited.
They also say employers will be able to test workers for marijuana to ensure compliance with any zero-tolerance policies and discipline employees for being under the influence at work.