Delaware legislators recently introduced a bill called The Delaware Marijuana Control Act, which would regulate the use of marijuana much like the use of alcohol is regulated. HB 110, which would legalize the recreational use of marijuana, has 14 sponsors from both parties. If the bill passes, Delaware would join eight other states that have also legalized the substance.
The Nitty Gritty of the Bill
According to the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), HB 110 would allow adults older than 21 to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and no more than five grams of concentrated marijuana, a highly potent form of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The bill would also permit four types of businesses – dispensaries, cultivation facilities, product manufacturers and laboratories – but would give power to localities to enforce regulations, limit the number of facilities and ban cannabis-related businesses.
Certain activities would be strictly prohibited, including smoking in public and driving while under the influence, each incurring a $100 fine and a $200 fine, respectively.
WDEL reported last week that HB 110 would enforce an excise tax on the product. That includes $50 per ounce on marijuana flowers, $15 per ounce on the rest of the plant and $25 for immature plants. And according to MPP, marijuana establishments would have to pay a fee of $5,000 and a biennial renewal fee of $10,000.
Where would all this money go? Well, according to MPP, 20 percent would go to toward education; 10 percent toward social services (including mental health treatment and job placement); 10 percent toward the prevention or treatment of substance abuse; 10 percent toward educating people about the risks of marijuana, alcohol and tobacco; and 50 percent toward the general fund.
Reasons to Legalize
Different legislators have different reasons for supporting the bill. State Senate Majority Leader Margaret Rose Henry has been interested in this issue for some time because she believes it’s a matter of social justice. In a statement, quoted by NewsWorks.org, she said, “There’s a disproportionate number of African Americans who are arrested for possession of marijuana.” She continued, “I, as an African American, see this as a social justice issue – an equalizer, if you will- so that anyone who is of age 21 should be able to possess and smoke marijuana in the privacy of their own home.”
Senator Henry isn’t wrong. A report put out by the Colorado Department of Public Safety – following the legalization of marijuana in that state – found that “the total number of marijuana arrests decreased by 46% between 2012 and 2014, from 12,894 to 7,004.” With increased revenues and lower incarceration rates, Delaware legislators are hoping that they can override the expected veto from Governor John Carney. Having already legalized medical marijuana and decriminalized recreational marijuana, lawmakers remain hopeful.