The Delaware House Revenue and Finance Committee approved a bill Wednesday (9-2) that would make marijuana legal for adults and regulate it similarly to alcohol. HB 110, also known as the Delaware Marijuana Control Act, will now be considered by the full House of Representatives.
“There is strong public support for ending marijuana prohibition in Delaware, and that was reflected in the committee vote,” said Maggie Ellinger-Locke, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Most Americans now recognize that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, and they think it is time for it to be treated that way. We hope the full House will follow the committee’s lead and approve HB 110.”
More than 60% of Delaware voters support making marijuana legal, according to a September 2016 poll by the University of Delaware Center for Political Communication.
HB 110, sponsored by Committee Chair Helene Keeley and a bipartisan group of 13 co-sponsors, would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, including no more than five grams of marijuana concentrate. It would direct the Division of Marijuana Control and Enforcement, an entity overseen by the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, to enforce regulations on marijuana cultivators, product manufacturers, testing laboratories, and retail establishments, and localities would be authorized to ban or limit the number of marijuana businesses within their jurisdictions. Home cultivation of marijuana would not be permitted.
“Current prohibition laws have failed, and Delaware deserves a more sensible marijuana policy,” said Ellinger-Locke. “The proposed law would take marijuana out of the criminal market, control production and sales, and have the added bonus of generating significant tax revenue. Several states have adopted similar laws, and they are demonstrating that regulating marijuana works.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the Vermont Legislature gave final approval to a bill that would eliminate penalties for personal marijuana possession and cultivation by adults 21 and older and establish a study commission to develop legislation to regulate and tax marijuana for adult use. If Gov. Phil Scott signs it or allows it to become law without his signature, Vermont will be the first state to make marijuana legal for adults through a legislative body.
Eight states have enacted laws regulating marijuana for adult use: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. In the District of Columbia, voters enacted a law making personal possession and home cultivation legal for adults 21 and older. Delaware is one of 22 states in which state legislatures considered bills this year to regulate marijuana for adult use.