Delaware State Senate Approves Bill Legalizing Recreational Marijuana Use

On May 13th, 2021, Delaware’s state Senate approved a bill that legalizes possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults over 21 years old. The move now makes Delaware the twenty-first state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, once the governor signs the bill.

The bill, which passed with a 12-9 vote, is the third attempt in Delaware’s legislature to legalize marijuana. In 2011, a similar bill failed to pass in the Senate, while a bill in 2018 passed in the House but stalled in the Senate. However, with more states legalizing marijuana every year, the pressure for Delaware to do the same increased.

The legalization of marijuana in Delaware will have multiple effects on the state. First and foremost, the bill will allow adults to possess and consume marijuana without fear of criminal charges. Before the bill, those caught with marijuana could face fines of up to $575 and up to three months in jail. Now, adults will not face criminal charges for possessing up to one ounce of marijuana.

Additionally, the new law will have a significant impact on Delaware’s economy. Marijuana is a lucrative industry, with states like Colorado and California bringing in millions of dollars in tax revenue due to the legalization of the drug. Delaware lawmakers predict that legalizing marijuana in the state could create over 1,000 jobs and bring in tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue annually.

The passage of the bill also includes provisions for expunging previous marijuana convictions from criminal records. This provision will benefit those individuals who were charged with minor marijuana offenses before the legalization of the drug.

However, there are still concerns from some lawmakers over the potential consequences of legalizing marijuana. Supporters of the bill argue that marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol or tobacco, both of which are legal and regulated. They also believe that legalizing the drug will reduce the burden on the criminal justice system and focus law enforcement efforts on more significant crimes.

Opponents of the bill, on the other hand, argue that the legalization of marijuana could lead to an increase in drug use and ultimately harm public health. They also worry that the drug could get into the hands of young people, leading to long-term negative effects on their physical and mental health.

Despite these concerns, the legalization of marijuana in Delaware is now imminent. Once the governor signs the bill, adults over 21 will be able to possess and consume marijuana legally, and Delaware will join the growing list of states that have legalized the recreational use of the drug. Only time will tell the full impact this will have on Delaware’s economy and society.