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Rally outside Legislative Hall calls to override the veto on marijuana legalization

At least 150 people gathered with cannabis advocacy groups in front of Legislative Hall Tuesday urging lawmakers to override Gov. John Carney’s veto of a recreational marijuana legalization bill.

Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network president Zoe Patchell says instead of standing with the majority of Delawareans and lawmakers that want legalization, Carney stood by law enforcement and special interests.

“He stood with debunked ‘Reefer Madness,’ he stood against science and the abundance of evidence that shows that cannabis is considerably and objectively safer than alcohol," Patchell said.

The legalization bill’s Senate sponsor Trey Paradee agreed - calling Carney “dead wrong” to veto HB371.

"If you listen to his reasonings for his veto, it's almost as if you're watching Reefer Madness from the 1930's," Paradee said. "So I'm not quite sure where he gets his information on this issue. But at this point, 19 other states have already figured this out. This is long overdue."

Felton resident Crystal Hamilton recalls growing up in the 1960’s and how low income and people of color were targeted by police searching for drugs.

“I’m 69 years old and I remember when pot almost became legal in 1972," Hamilton said. "And I remember how the injustice and racism and for the low income whites and long haired used to be treated. And nothing has changed.”

She says her brother-in-law had long hair, and when he was in the car with her, they would frequently be pulled over and searched for drugs.

A veto override will require a three-fifth's majority in each chamber.

Should the Delaware legislature override Carney’s veto, the First State will become the 20th to legalize recreational marijuana.

Rachel Sawicki is Delaware Public Media's New Castle County Reporter. They are non-binary and use they/them pronouns.