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Politics & Government

House lawmakers pass marijuana legalization bill

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Delaware Public Media
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House lawmakers pass the most basic component of a push to legalize recreational marijuana in Delaware on Thursday afternoon.

State Rep. Edward Osienski’s (D-Newark) bill would only legalize possession of an ounce or less of marijuana for people 21 and older.

A second bill, which cleared committee last month, would create a regulatory structure for sale and production. The companion bill will require a three-fifths majority vote to pass; Thursday’s bill required only a simple majority.

State Rep. Ruth Briggs-King (R-Georgetown), an opponent of the bill, argued that without waiting for federal action on marijuana legalization, Delaware risks contributing to confusion about differing state marijuana laws.

Osienski’s bill, for instance, would only permit possession of marijuana products derived from the plant’s leaves, while other states’ laws are more permissive.

“The real issue needs to come at the federal level to correct this, because now we’re going to have all these different laws and different standards state-to-state," Briggs-King said.

Opponents also argued passing a bill to legalize possession without adopting any accompanying regulations for the sale of marijuana is dangerous.

But Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network chair Zoe Patchell says those lawmakers generally opposed earlier attempts to create a regulatory structure for the sale of marijuana.

“Members that brought up concerns about where people would get their cannabis voted against those measures just a month and a half ago," she said.

The legalization bill passed 26-14 and now heads to the Senate.