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Dover begins its discussion on how to regulate marijuana within city limits

Roman Battaglia
Delaware Public Media

Dover City Council begins its discussion on how to regulate marijuana within city limits.

Delaware’s Marijuana Control Act went into effect in April - creating a framework for production, manufacture, testing, and sale of marijuana in a legal recreational industry.

But large municipalities, like Dover, have the choice to adopt state procedures, create their own regulations, or ban sales altogether.

Some municipalities, such as Rehoboth and Bethany Beaches, already voted to ban sales, but Dover City Council is exploring how to safely govern it.

Councilman Roy Sudler supports the industry setting up in Dover, arguing it will help curb the city’s growing fentanyl problem - especially now that the drug is being mixed into marijuana sold illegally.

“If they're going to smoke they're going to smoke, regardless,” said Sudler. “So I think if we can provide a clean avenue and send a message to stay away from fentanyl, and if you must do a drug or do something then here's a dispenser. And then I believe we’re saving some lives.”

The public’s response was overwhelmingly positive, with several residents with diagnosed chronic pain noting that marijuana has helped them avoid opioid use.

The Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce was the loudest voice in opposition to not banning sale outright.

Its president Dina Vendetti says the risk of negative effects on other businesses is her organization’s biggest concern.

“We are about to spend a lot of time and money on the revitalization of our downtown, and it is really important that we do everything that we can to guard against things that will keep that from happening,” said Vendetti.

But supporters point to data showing recreational marijuana businesses increase security in an area, support job creation, and boost property values.

Council is now seeking input on zoning for marijuana facilities, and whether or not any conditions should be imposed in those zones.

Quinn Kirkpatrick was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware and graduated of the University of Delaware. She joined Delaware Public Media in June 2021