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Delaware's marijuana legalization effort reintroduced in two parts

Delaware Public Media

Legislation aiming to legalize recreational marijuana went up in smoke last month, but its sponsor, State Rep. Ed Osienski (D- Newark) isn’t giving up.

He believes his new approach will make legal use and possession of recreational marijuana easier to pass in Delaware’s General Assembly.

Several versions of legislation combining legalization and the market creation into one bill failed to pass, so Osienski is splitting them up.

HB 371 simply legalizes possession of one ounce or less of marijuana for personal use. It only requires 21 votes, a simple majority, to pass, and has exactly that many House sponsors and cosponsors listed.

“I hope to hold on to the 21 co-sponsors of the legislation and pass that, and then it will put that extra pressure on some colleagues to say, ‘ok it’s legalized, to do this right we should create an industry that will provide this now,’” said Osienski.

The other, HB 372 regulates and taxes cannabis in the same manner as alcohol, and still needs a three fifths majority to pass.

“What I see is you have very strong, passionate advocates that want this, and then silence,” Osienski said. “There’s no real strong opposition. And unfortunately, some of my colleagues that don’t support this that have gone ‘no’ or went ‘not voting,’ I understand are getting a lot of nasty emails saying ‘Why are you doing this?’”

Osienski argues even if HB 372 fails, passing the companion bill legalizing possession would protect Delawareans who travel to other state’s markets from possession charges when they return home.

He is seeking to get both bills on committee schedules next week.

Rachel Sawicki was born and raised in Camden, Delaware and attended the Caesar Rodney School District. They graduated from the University of Delaware in 2021 with a double degree in Communications and English and as a leader in the Student Television Network, WVUD and The Review.