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Delaware is the 22nd state to legalize recreational cannabis. Gov. John Carney allowed the two bills to become law without his signature.
As of Sunday, Delawareans over the age of 21 can legally possess and recreationally use marijuana. Here’s what Delaware citizens should know if they wish to own and use cannabis within the parameters of the new Delaware law.
What Does the Legislation Say?
The General Assembly passed two bills related to marijuana legalization this month: House Bill 1 and House Bill 2.
House Bill 1 removes all legal penalties for use or possession of a “personal use quantity” of marijuana for those over 21. The legislation also establishes exactly how much is considered a “personal use” quantity. Here’s the maximum amount an adult can legally possess in Delaware:
- 1 ounce of leaf cannabis
- 12 grams of concentrated cannabis
- 750 milligrams of delta-9
Possession of a higher quantity could still mean fines, jail time or a combination of the two.
HB 1 also legalizes having cannabis in your car (as long as it’s in a closed container), sharing it with other adults and transporting it from place to place within the state of Delaware.
Activities that are still illegal under new law include public consumption of marijuana, growing or selling without a state license, transporting across state lines and supplying marijuana to anyone under the age of 21.
House Bill 2 is a bit more complicated. This legislation covers the cultivation and sale of cannabis in Delaware. Essentially, this law regulates and taxes recreational cannabis similarly to alcohol. It also creates a framework for a legal cannabis industry from production and manufacturing to marketing and sales. Finally, House Bill 2 sets up a committee to monitor and report on licensing, production, sales and consumption of cannabis within the state.
While this legislation mostly deals with cannabis production and sales, here are the highlights of House Bill 2 that are relevant for the average consumer in Delaware:
- The sale of recreational cannabis will likely begin in Delaware in 2024. Licensed stores are estimated to open in August of next year.
- The limits on hours and holiday sales that exist for liquor stores will also apply to recreational cannabis businesses.
- While the law hasn’t changed federally, this bill removes “marijuana possession” from the list of things that prevent people from also legally possessing a handgun in Delaware.
- A “marijuana control enforcement tax” of 15% will be applied to all retail purchases. 7% will be allocated to the Justice Reinvestment Fund where it will be used to benefit communities most impacted by the prohibition of marijuana and “War on Drugs” era policies.
Governor Carney’s Statement
It’s no secret to Delawareans that Gov. Carney has blocked this legislation in the past. His annual veto was the only thing keeping Delaware from legalizing recreational cannabis for several years. This year, legislators were confident they’d have the numbers to override a veto, which may have played a role in the governor’s decision. Gov. Carney released a statement explaining his decision to allow the bills to become law.
“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.”
“I want to be clear that my views on this issue have not changed, 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.”
While the governor still didn’t sign these bills, citing concerns about health consequences and roadway safety, he decided that prolonging the debate was not in Delaware’s best interest. With a majority of Delaware legislators ready to legalize recreational cannabis, Gov. Carney allowed it to happen, even without his personal support.
“I recognize that many legislators disagree – and I respect the legislative process,” he said. “I also do not believe prolonging debate on this issue best serves Delawareans.”