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Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Rally to overturn veto on marijuana legalization scheduled for June 7

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A rally in support of Gov. John Carney’s overthrow of legal marijuana is planned for noon Tuesday, June 7, at Legislature Hall in Dover.

Veterans and activists with DENORML and Delaware CAN have launched a statewide campaign urging lawmakers to override Carney’s May 24 veto of a bill that would legalize marijuana for adults. The General Assembly had passed the bill legally allowing adults to get an ounce of marijuana, and the legislature could override Carney’s veto by three-fifths of the vote in each chamber. The legislature returns from a two-week recess on June 7.

James Baldus, a DENORML board member, served eight years in the Delaware National Guard before being medically discharged in 2016. The husband and father of three says he was a statistically close VA for opioid addiction. Now, he just wants to spend time with his fellow vets and use cannabis. This should be a matter of personal choice. An ounce of marijuana should not be the cause of a stigma, sentence, or criminal punishment.”

Advocates of the law say House 371 would not only legalize drugs, but would prevent nearly 6,000 cannabis possession offenses each year. They also said it would prevent law enforcement from using the real, perceived, or purported smell of cannabis as a possible reason for conducting warrantless searches.

US Air Force veteran Mike Wershafter said cannabis saved his life and helped him stop using a large combination of pills prescribed by doctors from the US Department of Veterans Affairs. He said VA doctors are prohibited by federal law from writing medical marijuana recommendations, and legalizing cannabis for adult use in Delaware is the best way for veterans to access it.

“The veto is a slap in the face for every veteran who wants to be a race against our health care,” Wirtschafter said. “VA doctors can’t sign a medical card, but they can shove harmful and addictive pills down our throats.”

Baldos said that legalizing marijuana is important because residents do not have a chance to vote for legalization through a referendum.

“Passage of this law will allow me to legally engage with other like-minded veterans,” he said. “If a fellow vet is not so lucky and needs some support, I shouldn’t be punished for sharing some joints and some good conversations with them.”

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