The “First State” could become the ninth state to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Governor John Carney sat down with pro-legalization advocates for a roundtable discussion on the General Assembly bill (Marijuana Control Act) on Wednesday, April 19th at Delaware Technical Community College’s George Campus in Wilmington. The 39-page bill would allow people 21 and older to purchase up to 1 ounce of cannabis from a variety of stores. Although Gov. Carney is opposed to the bill, he kept an open mind to what pro advocates had to say stating, “I’m here to listen.” Only a few against the bill were in attendance with opposition statements such as legalization would fast-forward the black market or the bill would put more people on the road influenced or “more babies being born high”. Attendees for the bill brought to the attention that it would create jobs and more revenue plus stop unnecessary arrests of people convicted of “low-level drug crimes”.
The law would create a four-tiered system that includes privately run cultivation, testing, manufacturing and retail businesses. Up to 75 cultivation facilities could be erected with growers having to submit crop samples to five testing facilitates for potency and contamination checks. There would be 40 dispensaries throughout the state and 25 manufacturing facilities converting the cannabis to an edible, liquid, ointment or other end product. All four types of operations will be required to pay $10,000 for a two-year license and $500 for a special license to operate on Sundays.
Like any other law or bill, this would be effective immediately it is passed. The first eight-nine months will be held for establishing the bureaucratic system for how the industry will operate within the state. After 11 months, marijuana compassion centers will be the first to receive their licenses. The following two to eight months, retail stores could see licenses coming their way. The bill will create a new Marijuana Control and Enforcement Division withing the Department of Safety and Homeland Security tasked with regulating the marijuana industry, hearing public complaints, investigating violations and arresting those breaking the law. A nine-member committee would also be created to prepare an annual report on the industry, including the number of licenses issued and profits from cannabis sales. They will also propose law changes and monitor the acts impact on public safety and illegal use.
Employers would be allowed to ban marijuana consumption and possession at the workplace under the Marijuana Control Act. Landlords would be forbidden from prohibiting renters from consuming marijuana unless they live on the property and failing to do so would cost a monetary fee under federal law. Towns would be allowed to exclude any operational tier through referendum if there are enough votes. Local jurisdictions could also enact their own rules just as long as they do not conflict with the act. Selling to minors would come with a $250 to $500 fine and 30 days of jail time if you fail to pay the fine. Driving under influence, public consumption and growing without a license would be illegal.
It is estimated the Marijuana Control Act could generate an estimate of $22 million in the full first year of operation. The money would come from licensing fees, civil penalties and excise taxes imposed on the sale or transfer marijuana from cultivators to manufacturers or cultivators to retail stores. Funds collected from the state would first go to the administrative costs and expenses of the Marijuana Control and Enforcement Division such as payroll and employment costs. The remainder would be split with 20 percent going to public schools; 10 percent for nonprofits that support job placement, mental health treatment, addiction recovery and community re-entry programs for convicts; 10 percent for the prevention and treatment of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana abuse; and 10 percent for public education campaigns about the health and safety risk of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana.
To see the full 39-page bill, click here.