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Delaware, USA, May Legalize Recreational Cannabis Soon

The state’s legislators have passed the bill, but the governor may still veto it.
13 May 2022
2 min read
Delaware, USA, May Legalize Recreational Cannabis Soon

On May 12th, Delaware Senate passed the law legalizing adult use of cannabis. The move happened just a week after the bill was approved by the House. Now, it’s up to Gov. John Carney to sign the document or not. He has publicly expressed his opposition, but as long as he chooses not to veto the bill, it will become law – signed or unsigned.

House Bill 371 would remove all penalties for recreational consumption of marijuana and allow to legally possess up to an ounce of flower. Adults would also be able to transfer the same amount to other adults. Penalties for those under the age of 21 would remain in place, as well as for those who use marijuana in public or drive under its influence. Possession of more than an ounce would also be punishable by a fine of $575 or up to 3 months in jail.

Recreational Marijuana Bill Has Been Long in the Making

The first attempt to legalize recreational marijuana through the legislative process in Delaware was made in 2018. It largely failed because it proposed not only to remove the penalties for individual users but also to establish a regulated marijuana market in the state. Since this involves budget expenditures, bills of this kind require a three-fifths majority to pass.

The sponsors of the new initiative led by Rep. Ed Osienski, D-Newark, decided to split this proposal into two separate bills. The one that addresses personal possession and consumption and needs only a simple majority has successfully passed both chambers. The other one, which deals with creating a regulated market for adult-use marijuana, is still under discussion, and its future will be decided by June 30th.

Delaware, USA, May Legalize Recreational Cannabis Soon: A shop sign with a cannabis leaf and the words

The question of creating a legal market for adult-use marijuana is addressed in a separate bill.

More Roadblocks Ahead

Delaware’s governor John Carney does not support legalization and may veto the bill. Moreover, Sen. Trey Paradee, D-Dover, the bill’s sponsor in the Senate, said that the companion legislation for creating a legal cannabis industry needs to be passed as well. Otherwise, he would insist that the governor vetos House Bill 371.

So far, recreational marijuana has been legalized in 18 US states plus Washington D.C.and Guam. In most cases, the initiatives were approved through statewide referendums. In a few states, such as Connecticut and Illinois, the relevant bills were proposed and passed by legislative bodies.


13 May 2022