Though no state has done it yet, there appears to be a growing interest in legalizing recreational use of marijuana through legislature, rather than waiting around for the citizens to force it on the state government. Vermont was the first to try it earlier this year, though the bill was stopped in the House after passing in the Senate; it was later considered in Rhode Island and more recently there have been two separate bills introduced in the state of New Jersey.
Now, Delaware is the latest state to announce the possibility of legalizing cannabis for adult use – though the bill will not be introduced until early 2017. The author of the bill, Senator Margaret Rose Henry, who also wrote the state’s medical marijuana bill, has already written the new bill to be proposed next year. For now the bill will be reviewed by lawyers, prior to them starting to gather sponsors for the bill.
“It’s certainly being considered. It’s going to be an uphill battle,” Henry said Tuesday during a meeting of the state Medical Marijuana Act Oversight Committee. “But it’s time, quite frankly. It’s time to certainly look at it.”
This move is definitely a bold one – the state’s medical marijuana laws only went into effect four years ago – and the first compassion centers didn’t open up until 2015. They are still making tweaks to these laws, with the possibility of removing a requirement that a psychiatrist must sign off on a diagnosis of PTSD and adding to the list of qualifying conditions.
The state also decided to decriminalize marijuana last year, making it a $100 fine, paid the same as a traffic ticket. This law has been in effect for less than a year and some people seem to believe it would be best to wait it out and see what effect that the decriminalization laws have. However, the Marijuana Policy Project suggests that regulating and taxing marijuana could bring in at least $21 million before any cannabis is even sold – which could bring in needed funding for education, among other things.
As five states will get the chance to vote on marijuana legalization for adults 21 and older this year, there is a chance that more of these sort of bills will come up in the years to come. With so many states having the citizens push legalization on them, chances are that at least a few state governments will make the decision to take it into their control, and it will be interesting to see which state gets there first. Come early next year, we will have a better idea of how the rest of Delaware’s lawmakers feel about this issue – and just maybe they will be one of the next states to legalize cannabis and end prohibition.