Del. Recreational Marijuana Bill Clears House Committee
A state House committee has cleared legislation that would allow adults in Delaware to legally use marijuana for recreational purposes, while setting up a legal framework to regulate cultivation, sale and possession of marijuana.
“Today, we heard from numerous members of the public – advocates, veterans, retired law enforcement officers, educators and even faith leaders – who overwhelmingly testified in favor of legalizing adult recreational marijuana. These residents know what 18 other states already know: legalizing cannabis will create good-paying jobs for Delawareans while striking a blow against the marijuana illegal market,” State Representative Ed Osienski, D- Brookside-Newark, the lead sponsor of the bill said. “Delaware is more than capable of successfully enacting policies for safe and legal cannabis. I’m grateful to the committee for releasing this bill and look forward to taking the next important steps forward.”
“Today’s committee vote brings Delaware one step closer to ending the illegal marijuana market, one step closer to creating a thriving industry that will provide thousands of good-paying jobs to the residents of our state, and one step closer to fulfilling the will of Delawareans, who overwhelming support House Bill 305,” Senate prime sponsor Trey Paradee, D-Dover said. “The status quo that has caused so much pain and hardship in our state must end this year. I look forward to this bill next being released from the House Appropriations Committee and coming before the full House for a vote.”
According to the House Democratic Caucus:
HB 305 would regulate and tax marijuana in the same manner as alcohol. It would allow adults 21 and older to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana from a licensed retail marijuana store. Under the bill, the Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement (DATE) would absorb marijuana enforcement and create a separate, administrative Office of Marijuana Control Commissioner within the Department of Safety and Homeland Security.
The legislation would allow for up to 30 retail licenses to be issued within 16 months of the bill’s effective date. It also would establish a competitive licensing process through the Office of Marijuana Control Commissioner using a scoring system that rewards applicants for paying a living wage, providing employer-paid health insurance, providing a defined benefit pension plan, providing sick and paid leave to workers, hiring more full-time workers, focusing on diversity of workforce, and other factors.
HB 305 would establish a marijuana control enforcement fee assessed at point of sale, set at 15%.
The measure would direct 7% of the marijuana tax revenue to a Justice Reinvestment Fund. The proposed fund would be administered by the Department of Justice and would be used to facilitate grants, contracts, services, or initiatives that focus on the following:
- Restorative justice, jail diversion, workforce development, industry-specific technical assistance or mentoring services for economically disadvantaged persons in disproportionately impacted areas.
- Addressing the underlying causes of crime, reducing drug-related arrests, and reducing the prison population in this state.
- Creating or developing technology to assist with the restoration of civil rights and expungement of criminal records.
HB 305 would create new license pools for Social Equity and Microbusiness applicants. The new Social Equity Applicant pool would be limited to those who either live in a disproportionately affected area, or have either been convicted of a marijuana related offense (barring selling to a minor), or are the child of a person convicted of a marijuana related offense. These applicants would have access to technical assistance programs, reduced fees, an adjusted points scale, and a waiver of the physical location requirement.
The new Microbusiness Applicant pool would be limited to applicants with majority ownership held by Delaware residents. These applicants would have reduced fees, though higher than Social Equity applicants, and an adjusted points scale. These applicants would have access to Cultivation and Product Manufacturing Licenses. To accommodate the new license pools, more retail and cultivation licenses have been added to the previous version’s totals.
The bill allows municipalities to prohibit the operation of marijuana facilities within their borders through local ordinances that are not in conflict with municipal regulations enacted under this law.
HB 305 would not change existing state law regarding driving under the influence of an illicit or recreational drug. It also would not allow individuals to grow their own plants. Public consumption of marijuana would still not be permitted.
Employer enforcement largely would not change. Employers would be permitted to drug test workers for marijuana to ensure any zero-tolerance policies are being followed. They also would be able to discipline workers for being under the influence at work, as well as prohibit the consumption of marijuana at work.