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State group to study how to set up recreational marijuana program

Delaware Public Media

Advocates of legalizing recreational marijuana in Delaware aren’t taking the rest of the year off after the General Assembly gaveled out this week.

Lawmakers signed off on creating a task force to study how best to fully legalize and regulate the drug after a bill doing just that stalled in the House.

The bill passed out of a House committee in May, but never made it to the floor for a vote.

Even if it would have, Gov. John Carney (D) has said he’s opposed to such a measure, though he’s for decriminalizing the drug and building up Delaware’s medical marijuana program.

Sponsoring Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South) helped set up a state group that will outline how the state could best set up a recreational pot program.

“Having a formalized task force where members of his cabinet are there and we can go through this – I think it will answer a lot of the questions that he has. I’m not giving up by any means,” Keeley said.

Pro and anti-marijuana groups will serve on the task force, as will lawmakers, members of law enforcement and state officials. Recommendations are due next January.

Cannabis advocates were an ever-present force at Legislative Hall from January to June this year, pushing lawmakers to make Delaware the first Mid-Atlantic state to legalize recreational marijuana.

Zoe Patchell of the Cannabis Advocacy Network says she thinks that’s progress towards ending what she calls a “prohibition” on pot.

“We believe that this task force will get us closer to that. We’re eager to create this open and honest dialogue with agencies and organizations here in Delaware,” Patchell said.

So far, eight states and Washington D.C. have fully legalized weed.

In May, the Vermont General Assembly became the first legislative body to green light a recreational marijuana bill, though Gov. Phil Scott (R) later vetoed it. Scott said he's willing to work with lawmakers there on a compromise over the summer.

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