The Delaware Legislature passed a resolution to implement a task force that will look into how best to regulate and tax marijuana.
Delaware could become the ninth U.S. state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Earlier this month, the Delaware Legislature passed a resolution establishing a task force to study the regulation and taxation of adult use cannabis.
The state is preparing in case the Legislature approves House Bill 110, also called the Delaware Marijuana Control Act, which was introduced earlier this year. Sponsored by Rep. Helene Keely and Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, the measure would regulate the recreational use of less than one ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and older.
Keely and Henry will co-chair the 23-person task force, which will be composed of lawmakers, advocates, agency heads and other stakeholders. As stated in the resolution, the task force will report its findings and recommendations to the governor and General Assembly by January 31, 2018.
The task force will look into various facets of marijuana legalization, including revenue and banking issues, taxation, packaging and labeling requirements, local authority and control, consumer safety and substance abuse prevention, and impaired driving and other criminal law concerns. It will hold its first meeting before September 7.
“The General Assembly is ready to take a serious look at regulating and taxing marijuana for adult use,” said Maggie Ellinger-Locke, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project, in a statement. “This is an opportunity for a variety of stakeholders to come together and examine every aspect of this issue. We hope it will pave the way for the General Assembly to adopt a more thoughtful approach to cannabis next session. Lawmakers can see the direction the country is moving on this issue and they know most Delaware voters support making marijuana legal for adults.”
A September 2016 poll from the University of Delaware Center for Political Communication found that more than 60 percent of Delaware voters are in support of legalizing recreational marijuana. At a roundtable discussion in June, however, Gov. John Carney conveyed skepticism of legalization, saying he believes that lawmakers should wait until they have more evidence about the effects of legalization in other states.
Advocacy groups, including the Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network, believe that legalizing recreational marijuana would result in significant economic development and save the state more than $22 million in costs for enforcing prohibition.
The Delaware Marijuana Control Act could come up for a vote in the General Assembly at any time. If lawmakers were to approve the bill, Delaware would join eight U.S. states and Washington D.C. to have laws legalizing the use and possession of recreational marijuana. Delaware would become the first state, however, to legalize adult use marijuana through legislation.
As the law in Delaware stands now, possession of up to one ounce of personal marijuana is considered a civil penalty and punishable by a maximum fine of $100.