Marijuana reform could be on the cards in both Delaware and Maryland, after lawmakers in each state approved bills that seek to legalize adult-use cannabis sales.
Delaware House lawmakers are set to vote on HB 305 – the Delaware Marijuana Control Act – following the bill’s passage through the House Health and Human Development Committee and then the House Appropriations Committee.
The measure, sponsored by Rep. Ed Osienski (D), would amend Delaware’s cannabis laws to allow adults 21 and older to purchase and possess up to one ounce of cannabis, and includes provisions for the creation of a legal marijuana market with licensed cultivators and retailers.
Osienski first filed a marijuana legalization bill in the House last year, but it never made it to the floor for a vote. Since then, he has revised the legislation, namely the removal of certain social equity provisions, to make it more palatable to Republican lawmakers.
To clear the House and move to the Senate, the bill needs to receive a 60 percent supermajority vote. This same vote threshold is also required to pass the Senate, at which point the legislation would head to Gov. John Carney’s desk.
The governor of Delaware is no fan of marijuana legalization and remains noncommittal on the issue, but he has signed marijuana expungement legislation into law, as well as another bill to reduce penalties for youth found in possession of cannabis.
In Maryland, meanwhile, lawmakers in the House of Delegates approved two marijuana-related reform bills by near three-quarter majorities.
The first – HB 1 – would ensure that the question of legal cannabis sales would be put to voters on the state’s 2022 ballot in November.
“We are at the beginning of an important process where we begin to look again at how we have treated this substance, cannabis,” said Del. Luke Clippinger (D), sponsor of both measures, ahead of the vote.
The other approved bill – HB 837 – would outline certain initial rules for the legal marijuana industry, should voters opt to reform Maryland’s marijuana laws.
Under this proposal, adults 21 and older in Maryland would be allowed to purchase and possess up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana, while criminal penalties for possession up to 2.5 ounces would be removed. The measure would also allow adults to grow up to two plants at home for personal use, and includes provisions to expunge cannabis-related criminal records.
Both bills now head to the Senate for consideration. If Maryland senators approve the measure, then recent statewide polling indicates a marijuana legalization ballot measure would stand a good chance of success, with voters backing the reform by nearly 2 to 1.