Delaware push for recreation pot goes to study committee

 (NewsWorks file photo)

(NewsWorks file photo)

As Delaware lawmakers return to Dover Sunday for an unprecedented post-June 30th budget session, the idea of recreational pot as a revenue generator won’t be on the table.

Representative Helene Keeley had been pushing for legalizing recreational use of marijuana. She argued sales could be used as a way to collect revenue to help the state budget.  But, as the legislative session put its focus on taxes and spending cuts to solve the budget crisis, Keeley said she was a handful of votes short to get a marijuana measure passed.

The compromise was a resolution to create a “Cannabis Task Force” to study the issue.  The point of the group would be to identify problem areas in legalizing recreational pot use and coming up with solutions to prevent problems.  The starting point for such use would be at age 21. But the group hopes to provide answers to how local authorities and control agencies would deal with any issues. Also up for discussion are consumer safety, substance abuse prevention, impaired driving concerns, and taxation. 

Keeley had been pushing for passage of HB110 saying laws could be modeled off existing alcohol control laws. But, after the task force legislation was passed she said it was important to bring all stakeholders to the table for a discussion.  She said Delaware was entering into uncharted territory.

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Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational use of marijuana. Delaware currently allows for medical marijuana use.  Former Governor Jack Markell had been against the idea of expanding marijuana use.  Current Governor John Carney doesn’t fully support the idea, but did hold a series of forums for people to express their opinions on the issue.

A University of Delaware poll shows 61 percent of state residents favor a recreational marijuana law.  The task force has until January 2018 to recommend a course of action.

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