Delware’s House of Representatives passed two bills that would legalize cannabis possession and sales for adult use, marking a major step forward for the legalization movement in the state.
HB 1 would legalize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for adults, while HB 2 sets up a regulatory framework for adult-use sales. Both bills received supermajority support in the House and are now awaiting consideration in the Senate.
This marks the first time that the Delaware House has passed legislation to legalize and regulate cannabis with such a wide margin, and it’s an encouraging sign for advocates in the state. The Marijuana Policy Project, a national advocacy group, praised the progress of these bills and hopes that Delaware will finally end prohibition of the plant this year.
“It’s encouraging to see these bills advance through the legislature with supermajority support,” Olivia Naugle, senior policy analyst at the MPP said in a statement. “The people of Delaware overwhelmingly agree that legalizing cannabis is the right move, and with this development we are hopeful that this is the year Delaware finally ends cannabis prohibition once and for all.”
These bills still have a long way to go before they become law, however. The pair must be approved by the Senate and signed by the governor before they can take effect.
In 2022, a simple legalization bill was vetoed by Gov. John Carney. However, the election of new members to the General Assembly and the supermajority support for these bills likely would be enough to override a veto.
The fact that both bills received strong support in the House is a good sign for advocates. The bipartisan effort displays the momentum building in Delaware towards creating a fully fledged program, with the more-often deliberate Senate likely to be hounded into taking up the measures to pass.
Delaware voters overwhelmingly support allowing cannabis consumption. According to polling data, a strong majority of Delaware voters believe that cannabis should be legal for adults, and nearly half of U.S. states have already passed laws to allow adult-use.
If these bills become law, Delaware will join neighboring states such as New Jersey and Maryland in legalizing adult-use cannabis. In addition, several other states, including Hawaii, Minnesota, and New Hampshire, are also considering bills to legalize adult-use cannabis.
The perks of legitimizing and regulating cannabis are well-documented, and a potential boon could have significant economic benefits for Delaware. According to a report by the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council, legalizing cannabis could generate up to $43 million in tax revenue. In addition, it could create thousands of new jobs and provide a much-needed boost to the state’s economy.