Legal marijuana bill features changes this year to make passage easier
A new recreational marijuana bill is introduced by state lawmakers.
Every year state lawmakers seem to get closer and closer to legalizing recreational marijuana. And a new bill filed last week features changes meant to make the bill’s journey through Leg Hall smoother.
Zoë Patchell is the director of the Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network. Patchell says this is the strongest iteration of the bill she’s seen yet.
“So we’re really thankful that this thoughtful piece of legislation not only just legalizes cannabis, but it also begins to address the harms caused by prohibition and right those wrongs,” said Patchell.
The bill’s sponsor State Rep. Ed Osienski removed a fund that would help social equity applicants with setting up a business — with it, the votes required would be too difficult to whip up.
Instead, a portion of all tax revenue generated by marijuana sales will go towards the Justice Reinvestment Fund, which will work to address cannabis prohibition’s effects on many Delaware’s communities.
Patchell says it’s a great addition.
“That language strengthens the social equity component for disproportionately impacted communities — and now the bill basically includes all the pillars of social equity including first ending the arrests and enforcement of cannabis; and then of course removing the barriers to create an inclusive and equitable industry,” said Patchell.
The fund will aim to help people get their criminal records expunged, reduce drug-related arrests in the state and develop marijuana businesses among disproportionately impacted communities.
Patchell says taking that money the state gets from legal marijuana and putting it back into the communities most harmed by its prohibition is vitally important. She adds helping these communities will also allow them to take part in this new industry and reap the benefits of recreational marijuana.
Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.