Delaware Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Legalization Bill In Committee Vote

The legislation, HB 150, passed in a 10-5 vote

A much-anticipated bill to legalize marijuana in Delaware cleared its first committee hurdle on Wednesday after wide-ranging testimony about how and whether the state should enact the reform.

The legislation, HB 150, filed by Rep. Ed Osienski (D) last week, passed the House Health and Human Development Committee in a 10-5 vote despite vocal opposition from some Republican members of the panel.

“This act allows adults over the age of 21 to legally possess and consume under one ounce of marijuana for personal use,” Osienski said, “and creates the legal framework to license and regulate a new industry that will create well-paying jobs for Delawareans while striking a blow against the criminal element, which profits from the thriving illegal market in our state.”

The bill as introduced would establish a regulated commercial cannabis system and tax sales at 15 percent. Home cultivation for personal use, however, would remain illegal.

“This is the first step,” Osienski said of Wednesday’s hearing, noting that the goal of the meeting was to listen to concerns and and consider revisions. “We still have to go through Appropriations, and this bill will not be heard on the House floor until after our Easter break sometime, possibly end of April or early May.”

Gov. John Carney (D), meanwhile, has indicated that he “still has concerns about legalizing recreational marijuana.”

Osienski was the chief sponsor of an earlier reform bill that cleared a House committee in 2019 but did not advance through the full chamber. One major difference between this latest bill and the last version is that HB 150 would not allow existing medical cannabis dispensaries to start selling marijuana during the transitional period between enactment and full implementation, as the previous bill would have done.

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