UPDATED: DE Marijuana Bills Will Become Law without Gov Carney’s Signature & Reaction


Delaware’s marijuana bills will become law – without Governor John Carney’s signature. At the end of March, the Delaware State Senate approved by House Bill 1 and House Bill 2. House Bill 1 would remove penalties for use or possession of a personal use quantity of marijuana and marijuana accessories. HB 2 created the Delaware Marijuana Control Act – which regulates and taxes pot for recreational use – in much the same manner as alcohol. Governor Carney still feels the legalization of recreational marijuana is not a step forward and he released a statement on allowing both measures to become law.

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. 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.

 “I remain concerned about the consequences of a recreational marijuana industry in our state. I’m concerned especially about the potential effects on Delaware’s children, on the safety of our roadways, and on our poorest neighborhoods, where I believe a legal marijuana industry will have a disproportionately negative impact. Those concerns are why I could not put my signature to either House Bill 1 or House Bill 2.

 “I recognize that many legislators disagree – and I respect the legislative process. I also do not believe prolonging debate on this issue best serves Delawareans. Delaware families want great schools for their kids. They want good jobs and affordable, safe communities free of crime. And they expect – rightly so – that we’ll spend taxpayer dollars in a way that’s both responsible and sustainable. That’s where we should focus our time and energy in the weeks and months ahead.

 “As we implement House Bill 1 and House Bill 2, we will do everything in our power to protect children from accessing marijuana and marijuana-related products; prevent Delawareans and Delaware visitors from driving under the influence of marijuana; and closely evaluate the placement of marijuana dispensaries and other businesses, to ensure they do not become a blight on already disadvantaged communities. My goal will be to ensure that Delaware has a robust regulatory system that protects the interests of the most vulnerable Delawareans, to avoid the many challenges we’ve seen in other states, and to get back to focusing on issues that are most important for Delaware families.”

Statements from Delaware Cannabis Policy Coalition member organizations:

Toi Hutchinson, president and CEO of the Marijuana Policy Project: “With this move, Delawareans can finally celebrate the long-awaited end of cannabis prohibition! We applaud Gov. Carney for not standing in the way of progress. With every new state that rises to the challenge and legalizes cannabis, we are one step closer to ending cannabis prohibition nationwide.”

Olivia Naugle, senior policy analyst at the Marijuana Policy Project: “MPP is proud to have played a crucial role in the efforts towards legalizing cannabis in Delaware. We applaud the Legislature and the tireless work of advocates for their commitment to ending cannabis prohibition. This new law will have a far-reaching, positive impact for many Delaware residents, especially those who have been most harmed by cannabis prohibition. Legalizing and regulating cannabis is safer for both cannabis consumers and communities and will create a new source of good jobs and revenue for the state.” 

Laura Sharer, Delaware NORML executive director: “After years of advocacy, collaboration, and grassroots organizing, we are thrilled to see cannabis legalization become a reality in our state. This victory is a result of the tireless work of thousands of volunteers, dozens of lawmakers, and with the support of a huge majority of our Delaware community. So many have championed this righteous cause and recognized the need for sensible cannabis policy reform.

“This is a significant step towards creating a fair system that respects personal freedom, promotes public health and safety, generates economic growth, and addresses social justice issues. Delaware lawmakers have taken a progressive and equitable approach to cannabis policy,” said Sharer.

Jonathan Tate, Co-chair of Delaware Democratic Socialists of America: “We are incredibly grateful for the hard work of all of the Delaware Cannabis Policy Coalition, all the state legislators who voted to make this happen, including every single one that we have endorsed, with special thanks to Rep. Ed Osienski who has been leading this crusade for a decade. We would also like to thank Gov. Carney for doing his job and listening to the Delawarean people who overwhelmingly favor the legalization of cannabis and not caving to corporate donors once again. Cannabis legalization is exactly the type of revolutionary reform that we fight for–it empowers working-class people to make their own decisions about what they consume and it disempowers the state from punishing, brutalizing, incarcerating, and splitting up families over it.”