Cannabis advocates rally behind cannabis legalization, HB 371 passes
DELAWARE – For almost 10 years, advocates for cannabis have been pushing to legalize it in the first state, and now that could become a reality. “This is a citizen-lead issue the people that have brought this issue to the legislator this is for the people by the people,” says Zoe Patchell, Executive Director and founder of Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network.
Thursday was a monumental day for first state cannabis advocates as they headed to the legislative hall waiting for the passage of House Bill 371 and 372 which essentially legalize cannabis. “I’m looking forward to continuing working on this and I’m not really going to rest until we do have a legal regulated market,” says bill sponsor, Representative Ed Osienski.
This is the first time cannabis-related bills have made it out of the house, and into the senate. A Delaware attorney tells 47 ABC, that this effort is largely due to the reported social inequity Delawareans face when it comes to law enforcement and marijuana possession. “Where you were born, where you live, what street you live on shouldn’t determine whether you’ll be a part of the criminal justice system,” says Tom Donovan.
House bill 371 removes all penalties for possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana, and HB 372 essentially creates a legal market for cannabis. Rep. Osienski says there has been concern around regulation has been a topic of discussion among his colleagues, but he has confidence Delaware can follow in the footsteps of surrounding states who have chosen to legalize it. “Other states have been making adjustments and taking care of any issues that come up, we as a state or quite capable of doing the same thing,” says Osienski.
Advocates for its medicinal use also spoke about the benefits of marijuana, and how taking action to legalize cannabis truly breaks the negative stigma. “So this is something that can help not just ease the pain or put a stop gate on the pain he can relieve the pain, and give a better quality of life without the additions,” says Andre Brown-Clarke, community advocate.
Legislators say regardless of the outcome, it’s enlightening to see the number of Delawareans that came together to show their support.
Early Thursday evening, the Delaware Senate passed legislation to remove penalties for the adult possession of small amounts of marijuana, paving the way for legal adult recreational marijuana, specifically house bill 371. Advocates say the real leg work in regulating marijuana has just begun in the first state.