About 30% of the state's marijuana card holders are 65 or older.

Law allowing elders to self-certify for marijuana card passes House

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Government

About 30% of the state's marijuana card holders are 65 or older.

About 30% of the state’s marijuana card holders are 65 or older.

Another marijuana law – sponsored by the apparent champion of cannabis in the state legislature, received some opposition in the House Thursday before ultimately passing.

House Bill 285, sponsored by Rep. Ed Osienski, D-Newark, who has been a champion of marijuana in the state legislature, would allow Delawareans 65 or older to obtain a medical marijuana card without their doctor’s approval got some pushback Wednesday in a legislative hearing.

It would allow them to self-certify for the card without a certification from a health-care provider, circumventing the doctor-patient relationship.

It would also:

  • Remove the requirement that a patient must have a debilitating medical condition to qualify for a registry identification card. Instead, health-care providers would determine whether a patient has a diagnosed medical condition that would benefit therapeutically or palliatively from the use of medical marijuana. 
  • Modify the issuance process of medical marijuana registry identification cards, which facilitate the acquisition, delivery, possession or transfer of medical marijuana. 
  • Allow for flexible expiration dates on registry identification cards, enabling 1-, 2- or 3-year expiration dates.
  • Allow card holders of other states to use their card for purchases in Delaware.

There’s 17,000 Delawareans who have medical cards and about 5,000 of those are 65 or older.

Just as he did when the bill was first discussed in a committee hearing two weeks ago, Rep. Jeff Hilovsky, R-Long Neck, expressed opposition. 

Older folks typically have reduced hearing, sight, smell, and cognitive abilities so it wouldn’t be a good idea to allow them access to marijuana without consulting a doctor, he said. 

There were also concerns about how users would be able to properly know their correct dosage, to which Osienski said it’s always recommended to go low and slow when a person starts using marijuana.

He also pointed out there’s not dosage requirements for harmful substances like alcohol and tobacco, and it is the responsibility of the consumer to use them responsibly. 

Osienski also said there will be labels that recommend users to consult their doctor before consuming any form of marijuana.

“That doesn’t connect,” said Rep. Valerie Jones Giltner, R-Georgetown. “If we’re recommending that they should already be talking to their doctor and we’re suggesting it then why are we allowing them to self certify?”

Hilovsky also challenged Osienski’s comments that there are no harmful health effects of marijuana, citing that there’s research that shows it increases the chance of psychosis.

Most products at marijuana dispensaries do have a label that indicates its usage might increase the risk of psychosis.

The bill was passed with a vote of 25 “yes” to 10 “no”, with all 10 votes against coming from Republicans.

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