Delaware House panel approves marijuana legalization bill

DOVER, Del. – (AP) – A bill legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in Delaware has cleared its first legislative hurdle.

The legislation, which was released Wednesday by a House committee and now goes to the full House for a vote, regulates and taxes marijuana in the same manner as alcohol.

The bill doesn’t allow people to grow their own marijuana but allows adults over age 21 to legally possess less than an ounce of marijuana for personal use.

The legislation would create a commission to regulate, license and tax the marijuana industry, allowing licenses for up to 40 retail stores.

Consumers would pay an excise tax of $50 an ounce, while businesses would pay an application fee of $5,000 and a $10,000 licensing fee every two years.

Delaware Senate to discuss decriminalization bill 

UPDATE:

June 18, 2015

The Delaware Senate approved a bill 12-9 that will eliminate criminal penalties and jail time for adult possession of a small amount of marijuana. Under current Delaware law, adults found guilty of marijuana possession face a maximum punishment of a $575 fine and three months in jail. They also get a permanent criminal record. The new law makes possession a civil offense, punishable by a fine of up to $100 with no possibility of jail time, much like a traffic ticket.

Original article Below!

June 15, 2015

          Legislation to decriminalize possession and personal use of small amounts of marijuana heads to the Senate floor on Thursday, with an amendment expected that could send the legislation back to the Delaware House of Representatives. As written, the legislation, sponsored by Rep. Helene Keeley, D-Wilmington, would allow Delawareans to possess up to an ounce and use marijuana privately without facing criminal sanctions. Criminal penalties would be replaced with a civil $100 fine. An amendment expected in the Senate would reduce the amount of marijuana subject only to civil penalties to half of an ounce. The legislation cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Law enforcement groups have forcefully opposed the legislation.But a representative from the Delaware Police Chiefs’ Council said the group will not actively oppose the bill if lawmakers adopt the amendment.

The House passed the decriminalization measure earlier this month. Gov. Jack Markell has indicated he will sign the legislation.

Delaware decriminalization bill introduced

Delawareans caught with an ounce or less of marijuana would face just civil fines, not a criminal record, under decriminalization legislation introduced Thursday by a Wilmington lawmaker in the state House of Representatives.

Rep. Helene Keeley, the south Wilmington Democrat, said state residents should not have trouble getting a job, or finding financial aid for college, simply because they were busted with a small amount of marijuana.

The legislation, House Bill 39, would treat simple possession and private use, like a traffic ticket. Selling cannabis, and also possessing with an intent to sell, would remain criminal offenses.

“There’s definitely a generational shift going on here,” Keeley said in a Thursday interview.

Keeley’s bill would impose a $100 fine for possession of up to an ounce of cannabis.

Fines double if not paid within 90 days, and administrative fees also apply.
Under the legislation, those caught smoking marijuana in a public place would still face a criminal, unclassified misdemeanor charge, punishable by a $200 fine and up to five days behind bars.

Keeley’s legislation does not specify different penalties for offenders of different ages.

Pot activists cheered introduction of the measure.

“It’s long past overdue that Delaware decriminalizes possession of a small amount,” said Robert Capecchi, deputy director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates for decriminalization and legalization.

Congress Hands A Mixed Bag to Marijuana Movement

The year-end spending bill gives momentum to the marijuana movement, plus a painful setback

For the marijuana legalization movement, 2014 ends the way it began: with legal changes that showcase the movement’s momentum alongside its problems.

Tucked into the 1,603-page year-end spending bill Congress released Tuesday night were a pair of provisions that affect proponents of cannabis reform. Together they form a metaphor for the politics of legal cannabis—an issue that made major bipartisan strides this year, but whose progress is hampered by a tangle of local, state and federal statutes that have sown confusion and produced contradictory justice.

First the good news for reformers: the proposed budget would prohibit law enforcement officials from using federal funds to prosecute patients or legal dispensaries in the 32 states, plus the District of Columbia, that passed some form of medical-marijuana legalization. The provision was crafted by a bipartisan group of representatives and passed the Republican-controlled House in May for the first time in seven tries. If passed into law, it would mark a milestone for the movement, restricting raids against dispensaries and inoculating patients from being punished for an activity that is legal where they live but in violation of federal law.

“The enactment of this legislation will mark the first time in decades that the federal government has curtailed its oppressive prohibition of marijuana, and has instead taken an approach to respect the many states that have permitted the use of medical marijuana to some degree,” Rep. Dana Rohrabacher said in a statement to TIME. The California Republican’s work on the issue reflects the strange coalition that has sprung up to support cannabis reform as the GOP’s libertarian wing gains steam and voters’ views evolve.

At the same time, the House chose to overrule Washington, D.C., on the issue. Last month voters in the District chose to liberalize its marijuana laws, passing an initiative that legalized the possession, consumption and cultivation of recreational marijuana. The move, which was supported by about 70% of the capital’s voters, paved the way for D.C. to follow in the footsteps of Colorado and Washington State by establishing a tax-and-regulatory structure for cannabis sales in 2015.

Source

Delaware – Medical Marijuana Update

DOVER, Del. (AP) — State officials have entered into a contract with a lobbyist who once worked for U.S. Sen. Tom Carper to operate Delaware’s first medical marijuana dispensary.

Officials finalized an initial two-year contract Monday with First State Compassion Center, whose president is Mark Lally, a former state trooper who also served as Carper’s Sussex County director.

“FSCC has assembled an experienced team with a high level of competency in the field of medical marijuana,” public health director Dr. Karyl Rattay said in letter to several legislators Tuesday.

First State is linked to Massachusetts-based Sigal Consulting, which specializes in developing medical marijuana operations, including the Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center in Rhode Island, which opened last year. Rattay noted that Rhode Island’s medical marijuana laws bear “striking similarity” to Delaware’s Medical Marijuana Act.

Lally said in a prepared statement that the medical marijuana operation will offer “high quality, affordable medicine” and will include “industry leading protocols for security, patient access, compassionate care, and regulatory compliance.”

FSCC plans to operate its medical marijuana “compassion center” at an industrial park on the southern outskirts of Wilmington.

“In addition to being situated in an industrial area that has the appropriate zoning for cultivation and distribution facilities, this location also offers easy access for licensed patients and caregivers,” Rattay wrote. “The facility will be within driving distance of a large percentage of Delaware’s population, and is set within walking distance of two bus routes.”

Officials said the growing operation is set to begin this fall, and that plants should be ready for processing about four months later, with product sales beginning early next year. Rattay said officials will review the operation and patient demand after one year and determine whether there is a need for additional compassion centers.

A law signed by Gov. Jack Markell called for compassion centers in each of Delaware’s three counties. But Markell later halted implementation of the medical marijuana program after federal officials indicated that the individuals involved could face civil fines or prosecution. Last year, Markell decided to move forward with a scaled-down pilot program involving just one center, limited to growing no more 150 plants and an onsite inventory of no more than 1,500 ounces.

Meanwhile, a Chancery Court judge is considering Lally’s request to dismiss a lawsuit in which former Lewes city councilman A. Judson Bennett claims Lally breached an agreement to help Bennett seek a medical marijuana license.

Bennett said he believes state officials were “foolish” to award the contract while the lawsuit, which he believes he will win, is pending.

“It’s very unfortunate that they chose to award the final bid under these circumstances, because it’s only going to hurt the state of Delaware and the people who need the drugs,” Bennett said.

Jill Fredel, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Social Services, said officials considered the potential effect of the lawsuit on First State Compassion Center’s operations.

“While we can’t predict the outcome of litigation, we are satisfied that First State can continue to serve patients even if there is an adverse result in the case,” Fredel said.

Delaware officials eye medical marijuana license

Delaware officials eye medical marijuana license

WashingtonPost.Com/AP

DOVER, Del. — State officials are in contract negotiations with a lobbyist who once worked for U.S. Sen. Tom Carper to run Delaware’s first medical marijuana dispensary.

Public health officials informed Mark Lally, president of First State Compassion Center, in a letter last month that his organization submitted the top bid for the medical marijuana operation.

Officials released the letter Thursday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Associated Press.

Meanwhile, a judge has scheduled a hearing Monday in a lawsuit claiming that Lally breached a contract with former Lewes city Councilman A. Judson Bennett.

Bennett says he hired Lally to help him try to obtain a medical marijuana license, but that Lally, without Bennett’s knowledge, later began working with a New England group to land the contract.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.