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Four marijuana-related bills head to Gov. John Carney's desk for signature

Delaware Public Media

With the passage of new bills this legislative session, Marijuana Commissioner Rob Coupe says the recreational marijuana market is on track to open in early 2025.

To keep the recreational market timeline on schedule, lawmakers passed three marijuana-related bills in addition to clean-up legislation.

The first moves medical marijuana services under the jurisdiction of the Office of the Marijuana Commissioner.

In conjunction with that legislation, a bill allowing medical dispensaries to enter the recreational market early for a $200,000 licensing fee passed in both chambers.

Coupe says the conversion licenses will help to move the process along by allowing new recreational retailers to tap into existing growers and cultivators.

“The reason we felt strongly about the need for this was we've seen it effective in other states. The states that have used this model were able to get their adult use markets up in a very short period of time, many of them in less than a year.”

Coupe says with this legislation, the office hopes to hand out retail and testing licenses earlier than the predicted March 2025 in order to get the market up and running by April.

All proceeds derived from the conversion licenses will help support the social equity license program, which allows individuals disproportionately affected by marijuana prohibition to enter the recreational businesses with a 40% discount on license fees.

While the bill to allow conversion licenses passed with sparse Republican support in both chambers, the legislation moving the medical marijuana industry under the Office of the Marijuana Commissioner passed with unanimous support.

Another bill provides some legal protections for Delaware banks hoping to engage in the recreational market, although Coupe notes there are still concerns at the federal level.

“What the office has done is they have tried to reassure the banking industry and other financial industries related to this that they can work with the marijuana industry — the legitimate marijuana industry — under the Office of the Marijuana Commissioner.”

The bill clarifies that banks, credit unions, armored car services and providers of accounting services are not subject to prosecution under Delaware law by providing lawful services to marijuana businesses.

Carney allowed the legislation that legalized the recreational marijuana market to enact without his signature in 2023.

All four of these bill await his final approval.

Before residing in Dover, Delaware, Sarah Petrowich moved around the country with her family, spending eight years in Fairbanks, Alaska, 10 years in Carbondale, Illinois and four years in Indianapolis, Indiana. She graduated from the University of Missouri in 2023 with a dual degree in Journalism and Political Science.
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