A bill legalizing marijuana in the state of Delaware was slated to heard before the state House Thursday, but has been put on hold.
House Bill 150, which seeks to legalize the purchase of up to one ounce of pot from a licensed seller by anyone 21 and older, had 10 amendments attached to it the morning of June 10, 2021, and the bill's lead sponsor, Rep. Ed Osienski (D-Stanton), said it's too important to head into session in such a piecemeal fashion.
"House Bill 150 is an extremely important piece of legislation with many complicated moving parts," Osienski said. "In recent days, a number of amendments have been filed by myself and other legislators that would make significant changes to the bill as written. Accordingly, my colleagues and I need time to consider the implications of these various amendments before bringing the bill to the House floor for a vote."
Despite the delay, Osienski said the bill wasn't going away.
"This is one piece of legislation that we have to get right," he said. "I encourage my fellow legislators, advocates and supporters of the bill to please be patient as we continue to work toward the goal of legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use in Delaware."
Executive Director for the Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network Zoe Patchell said they were disappointed about the delay, but it was mostly just due to their excitement over progress being made on an issue the organization has already worked so long to amend.
"Our group has been working on this measure for nearly a decade, and there's been majority support for this legislation the entire time," Patchell said. "I think everyone in the community is really eager for this measure to get voted on and for Delaware to finally move forward with common sense cannabis policy reform. We're hoping, for the sake of all those that are being affected by prohibition daily, and for the overwhelming majority of Delaware being in support of this measure, that our elected officials will put their political differences aside and allow Delaware to move forward with the other 18 states that have already passed this common sense measure."
Patchell acknowledged the delay was nothing more than a hiccup, and soon the legislation would be appearing in the General Assembly and start making its way through the process.
"We're still hopeful and optimistic that the bill will be heard sometime next week after the Delaware General Assembly has a little more time to review some of the amendments," she said. "I know that Representative Osienski is working very hard to try to get his colleagues on board. Right now, we're definitely hopefully optimistic that this will move forward."
The bill would still need to move through the state Senate and eventually end up on the desk of Democrat Governor John Carney, who has been, at his most favorable, wary of such a bill passing. Patchell says her organization is already laying the groundwork for the potential eventuality.
"The community's been reaching out to Governor Carney in hopes that he will listen to the majority of Delawarean's who want to end the failed, costly policy of cannabis prohibition, and remove the civil and criminal penalties for possession," she said. "I think there's more than enough research to show the many social and economic benefits of legalization."