Just a few days after New Jersey legalized recreational marijuana, advocates in Delaware are now coalescing behind plans for the state to approve legalization of the drug as well. The Delaware Marijuana Legalization Caucus, made up of a group of activists from across the state, have been working to build support for a plan that would legalize the production and sale of marijuana, but would also make the drug available in a manner similar to that in place in Washington and Colorado. This plan would not only legalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use, but would also allow businesses to enter the market to sell the drug and would allow for legal interference in marijuana sales.

Delaware activists are working with a state lawmaker to craft a legalization bill that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana and create a system for taxing and regulating the state’s cannabis industry.

In Delaware, the push to legalize marijuana is gaining support from some of the state’s most prominent legislators, including Senate President Pro Tem Margaret Rose Henry and Senate Minority Leader Gary Simpson. The legalization movement has also gained ground in neighboring Maryland, where state legislators are drafting a similar bill that would legalize the drug, and in New Jersey, where a medical marijuana bill is expected to be introduced in the coming months.

Delaware activists coalesce behind new state legalization bill The Delaware Cannabis Policy Coalition, an alliance of organizations working to end cannabis prohibition, is pushing for the passage of HB 150, Delaware’s marijuana control law, during the 2021 legislative session. The legislation would make cannabis legal for adults 21 and older and replace prohibition with a regulatory system focused on public health and fairness. A January 2021 report from the Delaware State Auditor’s Office supports the bill, noting that legalizing the cannabis market would bring much-needed revenue to the state. On the fourth. June, HB 150 was passed by the House Appropriations Committee. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for a vote on Thursday the 10th. The group urges state residents to call their elected officials and support the proposal. Public support for legalization in the state has been in the majority since at least 2014, and a 2017 legalization attempt was promising before it failed.

Broadening the base of political support

The founding members of the Delaware Cannabis Policy Coalition are the Marijuana Policy Project, Delaware NORML, Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network, Law Enforcement Action Partnership and Doctors for Cannabis Regulation. The coalition has recently added a number of new members, including ACLU-Delaware; Black Mothers in Power; Building People Power; Cannabis Laws Matter; Delaware Coalition to Dismantle the New Jim Crow; Delaware Poor People’s Campaign; Delaware United; Libertarian Party of Delaware; Urban League of Wilmington; Delaware Network; New Castle County Civic League; NORML; Second Chances Farm; Campaign for Smart Justice; United Food Commercial Workers Local 27; The People’s PAC-Delaware; and Unitarian Universalist Delaware Advocacy Network. So far in 2021, three states – Virginia, New Mexico and New York – have legalized cannabis. To date, 18 states and Washington, D.C., have passed legislation legalizing cannabis for adults, and a record 68 percent of Americans support cannabis legalization. Besides Delaware, legalization proposals in Connecticut and Rhode Island also have a good chance of succeeding.

Statements by coalition members:

Delaware activists coalesce behind new state legalization bill The war on marijuana is a deliberate attempt to continue the mass criminalization of black and brown communities. Blacks in Delaware are four times more likely than whites to be arrested for a marijuana offense, which is higher than the national average. Even for people who have never been in jail for a marijuana arrest, the collateral consequences of an arrest – such as loss of employment, no access to subsidized housing, driver’s license revocation, and limited access to federal student loans – can make life significantly more difficult. It is clear that we must end the unnecessary criminalization of people who use and possess marijuana, and HB 150 is an important first step in that direction. We hope that Delaware legislators will pass HB 150 without delay. – Javonne Rich, policy advisor to the ACLU of Delaware Support for legalization has never been greater, although it varies greatly from party to party. An overwhelming majority of Delawareans (61%) recognize the failure of cannabis prohibition and its many harmful effects on our society, and understand the many social and economic benefits of legalizing cannabis. This common sense measure even has the support of the majority of the legislature. Let’s hope lawmakers finally listen to their constituents and vote to legalize cannabis for adults, joining the 18 other states and the District of Columbia that have already made this responsible policy decision. – Zoe Patchell, Executive Director, Delaware Cannabis Defense Network The consequences of this problem of social/economic injustice can no longer be ignored. The health, addiction and economic problems that plague our communities must be addressed NOW. These problems were exacerbated during the 2020 riots. These include mental health crime, opioid addiction, and increasing criminalization in disenfranchised communities that have traditionally been marginalized and at risk. HB 150 addresses the social injustices that allow historically marginalized populations to benefit (through entrepreneurship and business ownership) and invest in their communities once cannabis is legalized. – Andrea Brown-Clark, Coordinator of the Delaware CAN Coalition; Director of Public Affairs, MWUL & Network DE; Chair of the Coordinating Committee of the Delaware Poor People’s Campaign Building People Power supports HB 150. For decades, black and Latino communities have been overpopulated and criminalized for marijuana use. The passage of HB 150 is an important step for the State of Delaware to compensate black and Latino communities that have been criminalized as a result of marijuana-related lawsuits. Please accept HB 150. – By Shyanne Miller, Director of Building People Power (Urban League of Wilmington Campaign) Bill 150 is the first cannabis legalization bill to address the real problems of racial and social inequality that the war on drugs has created in our country. It ensures that marijuana convictions are erased and that the communities most affected by marijuana prohibition benefit the most from the sale and distribution of marijuana. Enforcing the ban would only perpetuate a vicious circle of prejudice and injustice. Delaware deserves better. That’s why the Delaware Poor People’s Campaign is eager to help pass this historic law. Legalize DE!  – Alyssa Bradley, Campaign Coordinator, DE Poor People’s Campaign Returning citizens, all ex-convicts, who work at Second Chance Farm, Delaware’s first vertical indoor grow operation, want a second chance at life and legal cannabis cultivation in Delaware. If HB 150 passes and becomes law, Second Chances Farm, a nonprofit with a strong social mission, plans to apply for a cannabis license and grow cannabis indoors without the use of pesticides or herbicides. Network Delaware wholeheartedly supports HB 150 as it seeks to right the wrongs of the past – Ajit Matthew George, founder and managing partner of Second Chances Farm . We appreciate the wide range of groups and individuals who worked together to pass this law – Drew Serres, co-founder and coordinator of the Delaware Network. The Delaware Cannabis Policy Coalition is a coalition of citizens and organizations that want to end marijuana prohibition in Delaware and replace it with a system where marijuana is regulated and taxed like alcohol. For more information, visit DelawareCannabisPolicy.org.Delaware activists are coalescing behind a new bill that would legalize recreational marijuana in the state. The measure was introduced in the Delaware legislature in early February, and it is currently sitting in committee. If it goes through the legislature, it will be sent to Governor John Carney, who is expected to sign it. If it passes, Delaware would become the 21st state to legalize recreational marijuana.. Read more about house bill 110 delaware update and let us know what you think.

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