A legislative proposal to establish a licensed and regulated system of marijuana stores has been passed by a second Senate committee.
The Senate Finance Committee gave approval today to House Bill 2 to legalize marijuana sales. Three members voted favorable, one voted “on its merits”, and none voted unfavorable. The measure will now be sent to the full Senate. Given the measure has already passed the full House in a strong 27 to 13 vote, Senate passage would put it before Governor John Carney.
Although it’s uncertain if Governor Carney will sign the measure, allow it to become law without his signature or veto it, the lead sponsor of House Bill 2 – State Representative Ed Osienksi – says he’s “optimistic” that the legislature has enough support to override any potential veto (this can be done with a 2/3rds majority vote).
Passage in the Finance Committee comes just a day after the Senate Health & Social Services Committee voted to pass both House Bill 2 and House Bill 1. While House Bill 2 would setup a legal marijuana industry, House Bill 1 would actually legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for those 21 and older. House Bill 1 has also ready been passed by the full House. However, it has already been sent to the Senate as it did not need to go through the Finance Committee.
More specifically, 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.