Delaware is now the 16th state to allow the use of medical marijuana to help people suffering from debilitating diseases.
Gov. Jack Markell signed the legislation Friday morning with no fanfare.
The bill received final legislative approval Wednesday. A spokesman said Markell wanted to sign the measure as quickly as possible because of the lengthy time that will be needed to get a state-run system for distributing medical marijuana up and running.
“I’ve heard from so many people who are suffering from things like cancer that Margaret Rose Henry’s bill would be very helpful and I think she deserves a lot of credit for pushing it,” Markell said following Wednesday’s 17-4 vote in the Senate.
Henry (D-Wilmington East), the bill’s primary sponsor, says it’s all about the patients who are suffering.
“This is really a victory for many, many people who are ill,” she said, “who can benefit from medical marijuana.”
The new law allows people 18 and older with certain serious or debilitating conditions that could be alleviated by marijuana to possess up to six ounces of the drug. Qualifying patients would be referred to state-licensed and regulated “compassion centers,” which would be located in each of Delaware’s three counties and would grow, cultivate and dispense the marijuana.
National medical marijuana advocate Noah Mamber says Delaware’s medical marijuana bill is one of the nation’s strictest.
“I think it’s the most comprehensive and tightly regulated bill in the country,” he said. “I absolutely think that other states going forward will look to Delaware as a model.”
The bill also authorizes setting up labs to test the marijuana to ensure it contains no harmful chemicals.