Bills that would legalize marijuana and set up a state-monitored legal sale industry passed the Delaware Senate and are headed to the governor.
Only one Republican voted for House Bill 1, which would legalize marijuana use in Delaware. It passed 16 to 4.
Sen. Eric Buckson, R-Dover, partially attributed his vote to his libertarian values of letting his neighbor relax in their own way.
“The libertarian in me says if I can have two drinks at night after dinner, why can’t my neighbor use marijuana in their home under their own decision and capabilities?” Buckson said.
The Senate sponsor of the bill, Sen. Trey Paradee, D-Dover, spoke about the benefits of legalizing marijuana in Delaware, including the revenue it would generate, the impact it would have on mass incarceration and the war on drugs, and the decrease in traffic accidents and abuse of other drugs.
Republicans led the opposition. Sen. Bryant Richardson, R-Laurel, poke at length about the dangers of marijuana, from the impact it has on violent crime, traffic accidents, illegal consumption, other drug uses, and the prevalence of connections to the MS-13 gang.
Paradee said that he doesn’t believe marijuana has the negative effects that Richardson claims it has, and that when people do alcohol, they are more likely to go out, creating problems, and when they do marijuana, they are more likely to stay inside and relax.
Richardson responded that he thought it was disrespectful for Paradee to dismiss his data out of hand just because he believes that his research is more accurate.
House Bill 2, which would set up a tax structure for legalized marijuana in Delaware, similar to what there is for alcohol, was passed 15 to 5, with one absent.
There was a long applause following the passage of House Bill 2.
There were two amendments to House Bill 2, one that would add equal representation for Democrats and Republicans on the proposed Marijuana Control Act Oversight Committee and the Appeals Commission and one that removes labor peace agreement requirements.
Both failed, 5 to 15, reflecting the Democrat majority
Senate Minority Leader Gerald Hocker, R-Oceanview, said he is disappointed in the lack of support for equal representation on the committee.
Before voting on the second amendment, Buckson said that the next time he brings amendments forward he needs to do a better job.
A similar legalization bill passed in 2022, much to the glee of supporters, but then Gov. John Carney vetoed it. The House couldn’t muster enough votes to override the veto, even with a Democratic majority there.
Rep. Ed Osienski, R-Newark, voted to come back. He said this year when refiling his bills that public support and political changes would help convince Carney to change his mind.
Also Tuesday, the Senate passed with a wide margin Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 1, which would give some tenants a right to an attorney in eviction proceedings.
Senate Majority Leader Bryan Townsend, D-Newark, spoke in favor of the bill and said that it isn’t an attack on landlords, who are important, but it is meant to level the playing field between tenants and landlords.
Attorneys would be provided to individuals below 200% of the federal poverty line.
Townsend clarified, after being asked by Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, R-Georgetown, that the rule wouldn’t apply to college students whose parents’ income put them above the income limit.
The bill passed with 19 yeses, with Hocker not voting, and one member absent.
It now heads to a House committee.
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