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Delaware House approves legalizing recreational marijuana

The Delaware House has once again approved a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana use by adults in the state.

House members voted 28-13 on Tuesday to send to the state Senate a measure to allow personal use by those 21 and older of 1 ounce or less of leaf marijuana or equivalent amounts in other forms.

Democrats have tried for several years to legalize marijuana in Delaware but have failed to win enough support, even though the party controls both chambers.


Democratic Gov. John Carney vetoed a legalization bill last year, and House members failed to muster the three-fifths majority needed to override the veto. Legalization is a necessary prerequisite for establishing a state-licensed and regulated marijuana industry.

Supporters argue that a state-regulated industry would reduce illegal black-market sales, create jobs and generate more tax revenue. They said the legalization bill would not allow people to grow marijuana and wouldn’t change laws on impaired driving or bar employers from having zero-tolerance policies.

Opponents argue that legalization will lead to increased marijuana use among teens and young adults and expressed fears Tuesday about young people’s cognitive development and possible prenatal exposure. They also said it would expose business owners to liability and lead to more traffic deaths and injuries.

Legalization requires only a simple majority in both chambers, but the industry-creation bill will require a three-fifths majority because it creates a new tax in the form of a 15% levy on retail sales. The measure failed to gain approval last year and remains in committee this year.

The Delaware House vote took place on the same day Oklahoma voters head to the polls to decide whether to approve allowing those over the age of 21 to purchase and possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana, plus concentrates and marijuana-infused products, and legally grow up to 12 marijuana plants.



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