DOVER, DE (CBS) — A committee of the Delaware State House has overwhelmingly approved a plan to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in the First State.
The 10-2 vote in the House Finance and Revenue Committee came after almost two hours of debate featuring some three dozen people on both sides of the issue.
There was a pretty even split between supporters and opponents.
Zoe Patchell lives in MIddletown and backs the proposal. She suggests there’s a bottom line question that needs to be addressed.
“Who should control this profitable cash crop and which market will benefit from the proceeds and the jobs?” she asked. “The dangerous, violently territorial criminal market which creates crime and violence or the state and law abiding business owners which will create jobs and revenue for Delaware?”
Opponents see it as a gateway drug to other, more dangerous products. Among them, Doctor Prayus Taylor, head of the Medical Society of Delaware.
“We recognize that the issue is gaining momentum around the country,” Taylor told the committee, “but legalizing the recreational use of marijuana is a serious departure from evidence-based policy making and carries with it risks of adverse health and safety consequences for Delawareans.”
Many legislators who voted in favor of moving the bill to the full house voiced their concerns about the measure in its current form. That was noted by committee chair Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington), who vowed after the hearing to tweak the bill to meet some of those concerns. She expects to bring it to the
full house for a vote next month. No action has been taken in the state Senate.
There was one suggestion that the question be put to a vote of Delaware residents, a notion quickly squelched by legislators who noted that the state constitution does not allow for it.
The bill would allow for anyone over the age of 21 to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana from several dozen licensed outlets across the state. It would be regulated and taxed by the state and individuals would be legally barred from growing it on their own.
Governor John Carney is said to be opposed to the recreational use of marijuana, although he held a public round table meeting on the question last month.