On the evening of June 27, the Delaware House of Representatives voted 21-15 (with five not voting) to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adults. This was only the third time that the majority of a state legislative chamber voted to legalize and regulate marijuana!
Unfortunately, however, a majority was not enough. A three-fifths supermajority — 25 votes — is required for any Delaware bill that includes taxes and fees.
While we are disappointed that this will not be the year Delaware legalizes marijuana, together we’ve made tremendous progress. This is an election year, and we’ll be putting together a candidate questionnaire and voter guide, so stay tuned! Helping elect allies is an important way to make sure prohibition ends sooner rather than later in Delaware.
If you are a resident of Delaware ...
Please take a moment to email your state representative to thank them if they voted “yes” or to politely express disappointment if they didn’t. (Many voters and lawmakers alike evolve on the issue, and it’s crucial that we don’t alienate lawmakers.) Once you type in your contact information, a draft email will appear based on how your representative voted.
You may also want to send a note of gratitude to the remarkable legislative champions, Rep. Helene Keeley and Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, to thank them for their relentless work. They are both retiring from the legislature, and they championed both medical cannabis and decriminalization, too.
In other news, a bill to make it easier to expunge marijuana possession convictions passed the Senate in May and is on the House floor now. Please also call your representative to ask them to vote “yes” on SB 197 so that Delaware will stop derailing dreams for conduct that is decriminalized.
Earlier this month, the Delaware Adult Use Cannabis Task Force voted to release its final report. Thank you to the co-chairs, Sen. Margaret Rose Henry and Rep. Helene Keeley, and all the members of the task force who have worked tirelessly to thoroughly review the issue before presenting their findings.
Legalizing and regulating marijuana in other states has created jobs, generated tax revenue, and increased tourism. It also attracts new businesses and makes the state more appealing to younger professionals all while undercutting the illicit market. Considering a majority of Delaware voters support making marijuana legal, there is no reason for delay.
When the legislature returns from the break, it will be time to proceed with legislative consideration of HB 110, which would legalize, regulate, and tax adults’ use of marijuana. Marijuana is safer than alcohol, and adults who choose the safer option should not be punished. Instead, they should be able to support Delaware’s economy by purchasing safe, legal products from state-licensed businesses.
The Delaware Legislature is back in session, and your lawmakers need to hear from you! Let them know you want this to be the year that Delaware stops the cruel and counterproductive policy of prohibiting marijuana.
A legislature-created task force is already exploring taxing and regulating cannabis and will present its findings to the legislature and governor by February 28, 2018. Sen. Margaret Rose Henry and Rep. Helene Keeley — who sponsor the Delaware Marijauna Control Act — co-chair the committee, which includes agency heads, lawmakers, advocates, and opponents. The task force has considered important issues like consumer safety, taxation, public safety, and packaging and labeling.
After the task force issues its report, there may be changes made to the bill before it is considered by the legislature.
In states that have already legalized it, regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol is creating good jobs and revenue, while undercutting the illicit market. The New Hampshire House and Vermont Legislature have already voted this year for limited legalization bills. Considering a majority of Delaware voters support making marijauna legal, there is no reason for delay.
If you live in Delaware, please contact your lawmakers and ask them to support cannabis regulation.
Early Saturday morning, as the 2017 Legislative session came to a close, the Delaware General Assembly passed a resolution establishing a task force to discuss how to tax and regulate cannabis in the First State. While we’d hoped to end marijuana prohibition outright this year in Delaware, this is an important step forward.
The task force will be composed of agency heads, lawmakers, advocates, and other stakeholders. Sen. Margaret Rose Henry and Rep. Helene Keeley, sponsors of the Delaware Marijuana Control Act, will co-chair the committee.
This task force is good news for Delawareans who have worked tirelessly for years on this issue, and success is closer than ever. This fall, policymakers will take a serious look at what a post-prohibition Delaware will look like. The task force will issue a report to the Legislature in January 2018. This leaves plenty of time for lawmakers to vote on replacing marijuana prohibition with sensible regulation.
After years of advocacy on the part of MPP and our local partners, Delaware Rep. Helene Keeley and Sen. Margaret Rose Henry introduced HB 110, the Delaware Marijuana Control Act. The bill seeks to legalize and regulate cannabis for adults 21 years of age or older. The marijuana tax revenue would be used to fund education, public health campaigns, and to support re-entry campaigns for ex-offenders, among other programs.
An October 2016 poll by the University of Delaware found that 61% of state residents favor this important policy change. Now it is up to voters to let their lawmakers know they want to see them vote in favor of this bill!
In a press briefing to announce the bill’s introduction, sponsors of the bill — which enjoys bipartisan support — spoke about why they see this topic as a social justice issue, and how the failed “reefer madness” policy views of the past should come to an end.
Last week, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed HB 39 into law, making it the 20th state to decriminalize — or in four cases, legalize — possession of personal use amounts of marijuana. The Senate approved the bill less than an hour earlier in a 12-9 vote.
Introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley, HB 39 will make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail. Possession of up to an ounce of marijuana is currently a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $575 fine and up to three months in jail. HB 39 goes into effect six months after enactment.
Please thank the governor for his leadership! You can call him at (302) 744-4101 or send him a message on social media or by webmail here.
In other Delaware news, the first medical marijuana dispensary in the state will finally be open and providing medicine to patients on Friday, June 26.
Wednesday evening, the Delaware Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4-2 to approve legislation that would stop the state’s ineffective and cruel practice of jailing individuals for possessing a small amount of marijuana — a substance that is safer than alcohol. The bill can now be voted on as early as tomorrow. Since the House has already approved the bill, a positive Senate vote will send it to the governor for final approval.
If you are a Delaware resident, please email your state senator today and encourage her or him to support this sensible proposal tomorrow.
Introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley, HB 39 would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail. Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $575 fine and up to three months in jail. More than two-thirds of Delaware voters support this policy.
[caption id="attachment_8840" align="alignright" width="147"] Rep. Helene Keeley[/caption]
The Delaware State House of Representatives returns to Dover this week, and we are hopeful it will take up HB 39 — the bill to replace Delaware’s criminal penalty for marijuana possession with a $100 civil fine. If you are a Delaware resident, please email your state representative in support of this sensible bill today!
Introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley, HB 39 would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail. Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $575 fine and up to three months in jail. More than two-thirds of Delaware voters support this policy.
Delaware State Rep. Helene Keeley, State Sens. Margret Rose Henry and Bryan Townsend, and 10 of their colleagues have just introduced legislation that would replace Delaware’s criminal penalty for marijuana possession with a simple civil fine, similar to a traffic ticket.
If you are a Delaware resident, please email your state representatives and ask them to support this modest reform.
Possessing one ounce or less of marijuana in the First State is currently classified as a unclassified misdemeanor punishable by up to three months in jail, a criminal fine of up to $575, or both! HB 39 proposes making possession of one ounce or less of marijuana punishable by a civil fine of $100. This modest change will allow law enforcement to focus on more serious crimes while ending the draconian practice of saddling Delawareans with a criminal record for simply possessing a small amount of a substance that is safer than alcohol.