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Lawmakers to hash out legalizing pot again

Delaware Public Media

Legalizing recreational marijuana is back before members of the Delaware House.

Under the measure sponsored by State Rep. Ed Osienski (D-Newark) and State Sen. Trey Paradee (D-Dover), Delawareans would be able to possess up to an ounce of recreational cannabis for personal use. Pot sold would be taxed 15 percent, with the revenue going to the state’s general fund. Home cultivation is not allowed.

The bill protects the right of local governments to prohibit marijuana facilities in their boundaries. And the state will give out 15 retail licenses.

Zoe Patchell with the Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network says they support the legislation.

“We already have 125,000 cannabis consumers in the state of Delaware," she said. "So this isn’t creating anything new. Rather it just replaces the current dangerous criminal market for cannabis with a safe, legal, taxed and well-regulated system.”

It differs from legislation that failed in the House last year in some ways. Only marijuana in sealed packaging or otherwise not easily accessible would be allowed in vehicles and it would remain illegal for someone to have marijuana in their system while driving. Employers would be able drug test and discipline workers for cannabis.

Credit Sarah Mueller
State Rep. Ed Osienski and State Sen. Trey Paradee

Paradee said it also includes requirements aimed at protecting children.

“That they are clearly marked. They have warnings and nutrition labels, etc," he said. "There’s also a lot of language about advertising and making sure that these products are not in any way marketed to children.”

Medical cannabis and retail centers will be able to sell recreational pot. The legislation also allows people convicted of some marijuana offenses prior to the state decriminalizing small amounts in 2015 to have their records expunged.

The Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, AAA Mid-Atlantic and the Delaware Medical Society oppose the bill. Gov. John Carney is also on the record opposing legalizing recreational marijuana.

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