Delaware Governor John Carney will finally allow his state to legalize adult-use cannabis, despite his personal opposition to legalization.
Late last week, Carney announced that he would allow two new cannabis legalization bills recently passed by the state legislature to take effect. The first of these bills makes it legal for adults 21 and older to possess, use, share and buy up to an ounce of pot. Home grows will remain illegal, though, and minors busted with pot can still be fined $100. This bill will also crack down on “gifting” by preventing people from offering “free” weed in exchange for another purchase.
The second bill will set up the guidelines for a taxed and regulated adult-use cannabis market. State regulators will be authorized to license up to 30 dispensaries in the first 16 months of legalization, and will prioritize applicants who promise to pay their employees a living wage. Legal sales will be taxed at a hefty 15%, and a tiny portion of this revenue will go to fund restorative justice and expungement programs.
Once these bills take effect this Sunday, the “First State” will become the 22nd US state to legalize adult-use cannabis. Adults will be able to smoke and possess weed immediately, but it could take months or even years for the state to roll out retail sales. Every Northeastern US state has now legalized adult-use weed, with the notable exceptions of New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.
Delaware lawmakers actually passed a similar legalization bill last year, but Carney vetoed it. The governor argued that legalization would negatively impact highway safety and make it easier for kids to access weed. Numerous research studies have found that underage cannabis use has actually declined significantly in adult-use states, though. Researchers have found no link between legalization and increased traffic accidents, either.
The science hasn't changed Carney's opinions on legalization, but he has come to accept the inevitability of reform anyway. In a recent statement, the governor said that he refused to sign the legalization bills into law due to the very same concerns he cited last year. But rather than vetoing them again, he will allow them to take effect without his signature.
“As I’ve consistently said, I believe the legalization of recreational marijuana is not a step forward,” said Carney in his press release. “I support both medical marijuana and Delaware’s decriminalization law because no one should go to jail for possessing a personal use quantity of marijuana. And today, they do not.”
“I want to be clear that my views on this issue have not changed,” he continued. “And I understand there are those who share my views who will be disappointed in my decision not to veto this legislation. I came to this decision because I believe we’ve spent far too much time focused on this issue, when Delawareans face more serious and pressing concerns every day. It’s time to move on.”
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