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Lawmaker’s Sick Day Causes Delaware Marijuana Bill To Fail

The Democrat-controlled House voted 23-15 to pass the bill. That fell two votes short of the required 3/5 supermajority

Delaware Public Media

The quest to regulate an adult-use Cannabis industry in Delaware failed again on Thursday. A bill to regulate the growing and selling of weed failed in the House, reports the Delaware News Journal.

House Majority Whip Rep. Larry Mitchell was ill and could not vote, said House spokesman Drew Volturo. Mitchell is a co-sponsor of HB 372, the bill that failed. The retired police officer has voted for marjiuana legalization and regulation bills in the past.

Just after the House vote failed, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ed Osienski, changed his vote to “no,” which allows for the opportunity of another roll call vote. Now he can bring it up for a vote again before the General Assembly adjourns on June 30. That made for a two-vote margin of failure. Bills that fail by one vote cannot be brought up a second time, reports WHYY.

“Coming into today, I thought it was going to be a good day,” Osienski said. “This whole thing has been up and down, up and down. This was a down.”

Two Votes Short

The Democrat-controlled chamber voted 23-15 on Thursday to approve the bill, reports NBC Philadelphia. That fell two votes short of the required supermajority. The proposal requires a three-fifths majority in both the House and Senate. That’s because it creates a new tax, consisting of a 15% levy on retail Cannabis sales.

Thursday’s vote came two months after a similar measure failed in the House on a 23-14 vote. It also came just hours after Democratic Gov. John Carney’s office received a companion bill legalizing possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults for recreational use. 

“The governor has been clear that he does not support the legalization of marijuana, and his position has not changed,” Carney spokeswoman Emily David curtly said in an email before Thursday’s vote.

Another Attempt In Early June?

Osienski said he believes another attempt for a vote will be made in early June. That’s when the Delaware General Assembly returns from its two-week recess. “I don’t feel like giving up,” Osienski said.

Rep. Bill Bush was the only Democrat to vote against the legislation.

This time, the bill gained the support of Rep. Stephanie T. Bolden and House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf. The speaker, a former police officer, had previously been vocal about his concerns with legalizing marijuana.

The bill would have allowed for up to 30 retail licenses, 30 manufacturing licenses, 60 cultivation licenses, and 5 testing licenses. The licenses would be issued within the first 16 months, reports WDEL.

Disproportionate Impacts On Black Delawareans

Osienski underscored he also sought to address the disproportionate impacts of criminalizing marijuana on Black Delawareans, reports Delaware Public Media.

“The past two years, we have listened to concerns from communities that for decades have been negatively impacted by the prohibition on marijuana,” Osienski said.

A bill legalizing the possession of small quantities of marijuana recently passed with no regulations for sale or cultivation, leaving Delawareans to either buy marijuana in New Jersey or from the illicit market.

Bill Headed For Governor’s Desk, But He Hates Weed

The simple legalization bill passed the state Senate last week. Its Senate sponsor, Sen. Dover Democrat Trey Paradee, said he’d withdraw his support if the bill to regulate marijuana sales did not pass. 

“If we pass this bill and not the other one, I will personally ask the governor to veto this bill,” Paradee vowed.

That simple legalization bill went to Gov. Carney’s May 19. He, as we mentioned, unforetunately opposes Cannabis legalization. Carney can sign the bill, he can veto it, or he can let it become state law without his signature. This would happen if he doesn’t take any action 10 days after he receives the bill.

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