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.
On Wednesday, Delaware Gov. John Carney signed SB 24 into law. Now, patients in the First State suffering from PTSD will no longer need to visit a psychiatrist in order to obtain a certification for medical cannabis. They can instead get their certifications signed by any physician. The change to the program takes effect immediately.
The bill — known as the Bravery Bill — was sponsored by Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, who is also sponsoring Delaware’s adult use cannabis bill, HB 110. An earlier version of SB 24 would have also added anxiety disorders to the program, but that language was removed from the final bill.
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.
Congratulations to all the advocates who have helped get Delaware to this point and are celebrating this wonderful news across the state today.
Thrilling news! Yesterday, the Delaware House passed SB 17, in a 27-14 vote. The bill now goes back to the Senate for concurrence on House amendments before heading to the desk of Governor Jack Markell.
MPP’s Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies, and Noah Mamber, legislative analyst for Delaware, were in Dover to assist with the floor debate. Several patients joined them.
SB 17, sponsored by Sen. Margaret Rose Henry (D-Wilmington), would allow the compassionate use of medical marijuana for chronically ill Delaware patients with their doctors’ recommendations. It would include tightly regulated, extremely limited distribution of medical marijuana by licensing three not-for-profit compassion centers, one in each of the Delaware counties.
This is a significant triumph for seriously ill patients in Delaware, and we couldn’t have done it without your support. Thanks so much to all of the committed Delaware patients, health care professionals, and activists who took the time to call and write their legislators in support of the bill. With any luck, we’ll be posting again soon to announce that Delaware has officially become the 16th medical marijuana state!