The long, hard push to legalize marijuana has once again failed in Delaware, reports WHYY. The Delaware House couldn’t muster enough votes Tuesday to override Gov. John Carney’s veto of a bill removing all penalties for adults over 21 with less than an ounce of weed.
Rep. Ed Osienski’s bid to override Carney fell five votes short of the 25 needed for the three-fifths majority required to override. The legalization bill had received 26 votes when it initially passed the House in May before passing in the Senate. Both chambers had passed the measure with what appeared to be veto-proof majorities, but only if lawmakers didn’t change their votes.
Tuesday’s override attempt, however, only received 20 yes votes in the House. That’s because three Democrats – Sean Matthews, Bill Carson and Andria Bennett — and Republicans Mike Ramone and Jeffrey Spiegelman changed their votes from Yes to No. In addition, Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst did not vote after voting Yes last month.
That’s It For This Year
The failure to override likely spells the end of efforts this year to establish a state-run Cannabis industry in Delaware, reports AP News.
Members of the Democratic-controlled chamber split 20-20 on the veto override, with Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst not voting. A simple majority would not have been enough, however, as a three-fifths majority was required to override Carney’s veto.
Legalization would be a prerequisite for establishing a state-licensed and regulated marijuana industry. That proposal has failed in the Delaware House this year.
“Unfortunately, some of my colleagues feel, you can’t regulate what’s still illegal,” said Democratic Rep. Ed Osienski. Osienski sponsors both the legalization bill and the companion industry-creation legislation.
61 Of Delawareans Support Legalization
Osienski said that 61% of Delawareans support legalizing Cannabis, despite the governor’s stance against it, reports WDEL.
“The governor has made it clear he wishes us to wait until 2025, but the majority of Delawareans don’t agree,” the Newark Democrat said.
Osienski added that 21 states plus the District of Columbia have passed forms of marijuana legalization, and that none of those laws have been repealed. “Nobody has come back and said, ‘We need to repeal this.’ They have learned a way to work out the problems, and I know Delaware is capable of that.”
“We Need Legalization”
“We need legalization,’’ Osienski said on the House floor moments before the roll call vote. “So I beg of my colleagues not to wait until 2025 to do this.”
The bottom line, the lawmaker said in his remarks, is “we need to fix this problem instead of just denying the freedom and the liberty of Delawareans to be able to purchase this product.”
But Osienski’s impassioned words and pleas fell on some deaf ears on a day when marijuana advocates rallied outside Legislative Hall and lobbied inside the building before the vote.
Afterward, Osienski admitted his disappointment. But the indefatigable legislator added, “I feel good that I was working for Delawareans.”
Both Legalization Bills Bite The Big One
None of the six legislators who switched their votes spoke on the House floor before Tuesday’s tally.
HB371’s failure matches the fate of HB372, the Marijuana Control Act. That bill would have set up a tax structure for the herb.
That one failed in the House despite a 24-14 result that included two absent and one not voting.