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Cannabis task force considers possible tax structures for legalization

Sarah Mueller
Rep. Stephen Smyk asks a question at the third meeting at the Adult Use Cannabis Task Force.

The state’s cannabis task force Wednesday heard presentations on how Delaware could tax the sale of recreational pot.

States that have already legalized marijuana sales to adults are bringing in more revenue than they initially projected.

Delaware officials and marijuana advocates say state could raise between $9 million and more than $70 million a year by making cannabis legal.

An advocate with the Marijuana Policy Project said Delaware could also see a savings in law enforcement spending, prescription drug costs and from fewer opioid overdose deaths.

But State Rep. Stephen Smyk, R-Milton, said he doubts the validity of that claim. A former state trooper, Smyk said legalizing pot will worsen addiction.

“Everyone not just gonna stop their heroin use and say ‘Let me go smoke a doobie,’" he said. "That’s not going to occur. In fact, it actually promotes the use because the people who are actually fighting the addiction where they’ve hit rock bottom, any backward motion - they’re going to trip up on that.”

Task force co-chairs Helene Keeley and Margaret Rose Henry said they’ll ask the legislature to extend the group’s deadline to deliver recommendations on legalizing marijuana to Feb. 28th. Keeley says opponents of legalization want more time to give input.

“Again, I didn’t want them coming back and saying ‘Well, we asked for more time and they didn’t give it to us,’" she said. "And to be honest with you, I think a lot of the dialogue that we’re having is sparking other topics that we need to discuss and that’s the point of the task force.”

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