Delaware Senate Committee Approves Bills to Legalize Marijuana Including Retail Outlets

Two bills that would legalize marijuana possession and establish a regulated system of licensed retail outlets has been approved by a key Senate committee.

The Senate Health & Social Services Committee gave approval today to House Bill 1 and House Bill 2, both filed by State Representative Ed Osienksi in the House and sponsored by Senator Trey Paradee in the Senate. The measure now moves closer to a vote by the full Senate, where passage would put it before Governor John Carney. Representative Osienski says he’s “optimistic” that even if the governor were to veto the bills, the legislature would override the veto which it can do with a 2/3rds majority.

House Bill 2 passed the full House earlier this month by a vote of 27 to 13, which was almost identical to the 28 to 13 vote on House Bill 1.

House Bill 1 would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for everyone 21 and older. However, the measure would not legalize the sale of marijuana. That’s where House Bill 2 in comes into play.

House Bill 2 would authorize marijuana to be sold to anyone 21 and older through licensed and regulated retail outlets which would be stocked by licensed producers. The Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement  would be charged with regulating the marijuana industry through a new Office of Marijuana Control Commissioner.

“It has been a long journey to get to this point”, says says Representative Osienski. “We have experienced setbacks along the way and none worse than losing business to New Jersey and we have learned a great deal and produced what we believe is a strong bill that will make Delaware an industry leader in this field.”

He continued: “In the past five years, we have listened to concerns from communities that have, for decades, been negatively impacted by the prohibition of marijuana to try to undo some of the harm done and ensure that these same communities will benefit from the new legal market”.

If both measures are passed into law marijuana will be taxed at 15% with medical marijuana remaining tax-free.

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