In the end, Governor John Carney bowed to the inevitable. These laws would be signed the first week of February 2025 by Governor Meyer or Governor Blunt Rochester or Governor Jennings. He was an obstinant road block to progress that finally pushed itself out of the way.
Governor Carney announced on Friday that he will allow House Bills 1 and 2, collectively known as the Delaware Marijuana Control Act, to become law without his signature or veto. This means that he knew that his veto would have been overriden, and he is saving himself that embarrassment.
Here is the Governor’s statement: “In the coming days, I will allow House Bill 1 and House Bill 2 to be enacted into Delaware law without my signature. These two pieces of legislation remove all state-level civil and criminal penalties from simple marijuana possession and create a highly regulated industry to conduct recreational marijuana sales in Delaware. As I’ve consistently said, I believe the legalization of recreational marijuana is not a step forward. I support both medical marijuana and Delaware’s decriminalization law because no one should go to jail for possessing a personal use quantity of marijuana. And today, they do not.
“I want to be clear that my views on this issue have not changed. And I understand there are those who share my views who will be disappointed in my decision not to veto this legislation. I came to this decision because I believe we’ve spent far too much time focused on this issue, when Delawareans face more serious and pressing concerns every day. It’s time to move on.
“I remain concerned about the consequences of a recreational marijuana industry in our state. I’m concerned especially about the potential effects on Delaware’s children, on the safety of our roadways, and on our poorest neighborhoods, where I believe a legal marijuana industry will have a disproportionately negative impact. Those concerns are why I could not put my signature to either House Bill 1 or House Bill 2.
“I recognize that many legislators disagree – and I respect the legislative process. I also do not believe prolonging debate on this issue best serves Delawareans. Delaware families want great schools for their kids. They want good jobs and affordable, safe communities free of crime. And they expect – rightly so – that we’ll spend taxpayer dollars in a way that’s both responsible and sustainable. That’s where we should focus our time and energy in the weeks and months ahead.
“As we implement House Bill 1 and House Bill 2, we will do everything in our power to protect children from accessing marijuana and marijuana-related products; prevent Delawareans and Delaware visitors from driving under the influence of marijuana; and closely evaluate the placement of marijuana dispensaries and other businesses, to ensure they do not become a blight on already disadvantaged communities. My goal will be to ensure that Delaware has a robust regulatory system that protects the interests of the most vulnerable Delawareans, to avoid the many challenges we’ve seen in other states, and to get back to focusing on issues that are most important for Delaware families.”
Sponsored by Rep. Ed Osienski, House Bill 1 removes all penalties for possession of a personal use quantity of marijuana, except for those who are under 21 years of age. House Bill 2 creates a legal framework to regulate the cultivation, sale and possession of marijuana, provides opportunities for small businesses to be licensed, and ensures people living in areas disproportionately affected by the prohibition of marijuana have equal access to this new market.
The General Assembly passed both bills by strong, bipartisan majorities last month and both were delivered to Governor Carney earlier this month. HB 1 officially will become law this past Sunday after a 10-day legislative process where the governor has 10 days from receipt of a bill to either sign, veto or take no action and let the bill become law without their signature. HB 2 will officially become law Thursday, as per his announcement Friday.
“After five years of countless meetings, debates, negotiations and conversations, I’m grateful we have reached the point where Delaware has joined a growing number of states that have legalized and regulated adult recreational marijuana for personal use. We know that more than 60% of Delawareans support the legalization of marijuana for adult recreational use, and more than two-thirds of the General Assembly agreed,” said Rep. Osienski.
“I understand the governor’s personal opposition to legalization, so I especially appreciate him listening to the thousands of residents who support this effort and allowing it to become law. I am committed to working with the administration to ensure that the effort to establish the regulatory process goes as smoothly as possible.
“I have to thank my colleagues for standing together on this issue and contributing their input into the process. We have arrived at a stronger law, and Delaware will be better for it. I especially have to thank all the advocates who rallied for these bills and were patient as we negotiated, poked, prodded and cajoled our way to gaining enough support to pass the Marijuana Control Act. We’ve reached the mountaintop, and it feels great to finally get there. I hope everyone enjoys the moment.”
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