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Legislation legalizing recreational pot clears House committee

Delaware Public Media

The House Revenue and Finance Committee released legislation seeking to legalize adult use cannabis.

More than four dozen Delawareans showed to voice their support or opposition to allowing recreational pot in the First State.

The bill, sponsored by State Rep. Ed Osienski (D-Newark), would tax marijuana sales at 15 percent, with the revenue going into the general fund. It allows medical cannabis centers to sell recreational pot while retail facilities are ramping up and allows people with certain marijuana related offenses to get their records expunged.

Medical Society of Delaware Executive Director Mark Thompson is strongly opposed to legalizing pot. He said public health should be the top priority.

“Data from states that have legalized recreational marijuana shows an increase in car accidents, an increase in teen use, an increase in unnecessary and troubling emergency room visits and more,” he said.

Supporters of legalization say it works better for certain medical conditions than opioids and is less addictive. Others say it will boost the state’s economy.

Dave Foster, a former Delaware narcotics detective, supports the legislation. He said the cannabis black market already exists, controlled by drug dealers.

“Here’s the chance to weaken them," he said. "Cut their share of the market instantly. Take more of it every year.”

Currently 11 states have legalized marijuana. The Illinois General Assembly passed legislation last week to legalize recreational cannabis, and the governor is expected to sign it.

Some advocates of Osienski’s bill want some changes like being allowed to grow their own plants and possess more than an ounce. The business community opposition and say it has concerns about the impact to employers.

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