Marijuana legalization efforts in Delaware shift to two separate bills as the state’s fifth effort hopes to clear 60 percent

DELAWARE – After Delaware’s House Bill 305 to fully legalize marijuana possession up to one ounce and create a legal marketplace failed to pass by just two votes, its author has reintroduced the measure as two separate bills, hoping to gain more support and pass the measure into law as the states 5th legislative attempt at marijuana legalization.

“It was brought to my attention that some could vote for just simply legalizing the possession of personal use which is an ounce or less, and some colleagues would not vote for the legalization, but if it was legalized would support the legal market,” said Rep. Ed Osienski. 

Osienski says given those dynamics in the legislature he sponsored, HB372 and HB371, separating the legalization of possession and marketplace creation into two separate bills. HB371 suffered from a procedural delay and is still in Committee while HB372 has passed the committee stage.

Osienski tells us while HB371 can pass on a narrow majority because HB372 would concern taxes and state funds, it would still have to clear the 60 percent super-majority hurdle that sunk HB305. He tells us despite that bill’s failure to pass, it did ultimately prove to be useful.

“Since I insisted it go to the floor for a vote voters knew where their legislators stand or where they stood, and we have seen many receive intense pushback for their votes on social media,” Rep. Osienski said. 

According to Delaware Cannabis Network, Delaware has a 61 percent support for marijuana legalization, and they are focused on putting pressure on lawmakers to get them to a yes vote.

“We are launching social media campaigns, we planning to have an event outside the legislature when it reconvenes and votes on these pieces of legislation to show our lawmakers this is what voters up and down Delaware are asking for,” said DCN Executive Director Zoe Patchell.

Delaware House Republican’s Director of Policy Jospeh Fulgham told 47ABC opponents to the bill in his caucus are pointing to studies that legalization increased black market sales in Colorado, as well as teen use. 

Patchell says the surveys cited by the opposition are misleading and don’t capture the full scope of legalization efforts.

“This is a billion-dollar legal industry, and to say that this would somehow grow the illicit market is not accurate, and if it is not legalized that illicit market still stays in Delaware,” she said.

Patchell also points to New Jersey’s sales beginning on the 21st of this month, which she says is taxable revenue that Delaware is allowing to go over state lines. The legal sales in New Jersey also add urgency to passing HB371 according to Rep. Osienski.

“Tomorrow they can drive to New Jersey and purchase it so it would not be fair to them to go there just for that product only to come back and get a citation,” he said adding “I just ask my colleagues to listen to their constituents and vote for their constituents.”

The Delaware Legislative Session is expected to resume in early May.

Categories: Delaware, Local News, Local Politics