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Cannabis task force presents preliminary recommendations on pot legalization

Delaware Public Media

Guidebook author and travel TV host Rick Steves stopped in Delaware Wednesday to advocate for efforts legalizing cannabis.

His visit came as the Adult Use Cannabis Task Force presented its draft recommendations.

Task Force Co-chairs Rep. Helene Keeley and Sen. Margaret Rose Henry plan to use the final report set for release on Feb. 28th to make fixes to legislation introduced last year.

The preliminary report suggests changes like allowing local governments to enact restrictions, creating a system for tracking sales and giving law enforcement more funding.

Bill Lynch of Attack Addiction remains opposed to legalization. He said it opens the door to addiction, mental illness and increased cancer risk.

“When all of these things begin to happen in Delaware if this bill passes, Sen. Henry, Rep. Keeley, Rep. Baumbach and every other state senator or representative who votes in favor of HB 110, the blood will be on your hands,” he said.

But some medical marijuana patients told the task force that using cannabis helped them recover from serious illnesses or lessen the symptoms of chronic conditions.

Legal cannabis supporters also point to the black market that already exists in Delaware. And to the higher percentages of people of color being arrested and jailed for marijuana possession.

Keeley said she wants the bill to cost as little as possible to win over fellow legislators.

“To go to JFC and specifically ask for, just say hypothetically a million dollars is not something that is going to happen," she said. "So we are working diligently to make sure the bill would be revenue neutral.”

Keeley said she may be close to having enough support from lawmakers to pass marijuana legalization. But even if she can muster the votes - she still faces opposition from Gov. John Carney. Carney spokesman Jon Starkey said the governor opposes legalization - adding the governor would prefer to monitor initiatives in other states and federal drug enforcement efforts.

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