Cannabis advocates in Delaware have reason to rejoice. A draft bill that would legalize cannabis for adults over 21 is headed to Delaware’s General Assembly. Years of lobbying from local advocates has proven successful for the effort to legalize cannabis in the nation’s second-smallest state.
Those under 21 who are caught with cannabis would receive a $100 civil fine on the first offense and a misdemeanor for any further offenses. Retail licenses would be granted to 40 businesses and that number could expand in three years. 20 percent of cannabis tax revenue would be allocated to the Department of Education, and another 30 percent would be divided between the state health department for addiction treatment, educational campaigns as well as helping past cannabis offenders find jobs. The remainder of tax revenue would go towards the state’s General Fund.
Rep. John Kowalko (D-Newark South) is one of the bill’s sponsors. “I think that’s a waste of resources and I think it’s certainly an infringement on people to try to reflect on the heyday of ‘Reefer Madness,’” Kowalko told WDDE 91.1. “Understand that whatever revenue we get now, being an early entrant into the game is not going to be sustainable and that’s okay as long as we prepare for the future. And prepare for the future means we can’t just put it in our wallet and go out and spend it on joy rides the next day.”
There is no excise tax at the point of sale. Instead, cultivators would pay a fee before distribution. Urban retail shops would have a 1,200-foot buffer in between each other. Rural shops would need to be separated by a mile. Like other states, towns and municipalities would still have the freedom to ban storefront shops as they please.
Delaware’s General Assembly legalized medical cannabis in 2011 and made possession of less than an ounce merely a civil fine in 2015. Prospective shop owners would need to pay a $5,000 application fee and pay an additional $10,000 fee every two years. The final draft is expected to be released Thursday.