Delaware House Passes Bill to Legalize Recreational Marijuana Use
The Delaware House recently passed a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana use by adults aged 21 and over. The proposal, which was voted through with 28-13 in favor, would allow users to possess up to 1 ounce of leaf marijuana or equivalent amounts in other forms. Despite being supported by the majority Democratic party, Governor John Carney vetoed the measure last year, leading to the need for another attempt.
Supporters of the bill argue that legalization would reduce illegal black-market sales, create jobs and generate more tax revenue. It also seeks to protect business owners from liability issues, while not changing laws on impaired driving or barring employers from having zero-tolerance policies.
Opponents, however, are concerned about an increase in marijuana use among teens and young adults leading to potential cognitive development issues and prenatal exposure. Furthermore, they worry that it will lead to more traffic deaths and injuries due to more people driving while under the influence of the drug.
The bill is now set to move onto the state Senate, where it will require a three-fifths majority in order to pass. This is because the measure creates a new tax of 15% on retail sales, something which must be approved with a higher voter majority.
The Delaware House vote came around the same time as Oklahoma was deciding whether to approve allowing those over the age of 21 to purchase and possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana. That measure, however, was ultimately rejected by voters.
Much remains uncertain about the future of marijuana legalization in Delaware. Despite being passed through with a majority vote in favor of it, the bill will now require a three-fifths majority to pass, as it involves the creation of a new tax. Opponents remain wary of its effects on young people’s health and safety, while supporters argue that legalization would reduce illegal black-market sales, create jobs and generate more tax revenue. It is now up to the state Senate to determine if the bill will succeed.