Delaware became the 22nd state to legalize adult-use cannabis on Sunday after Gov. John Carney allowed a pair of legalization bills to become law without his signature.
Carney, who has long been a staunch opponent of cannabis legalization in Delaware, announced Friday that he would allow House Bills 1 and 2 pass into law despite his personal opposition to the measure.
“In the coming days, I will allow House Bill 1 and House Bill 2 to be enacted into Delaware law without my signature,” Carney said in his statement released Friday. “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,” Carney added.
The Democratic governor previously vetoed legislation to legalize cannabis in May 2022. However, he allowed cannabis legalization to became law this time around, citing in part his respect for the legislative process.
“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,” Carney said. “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.”
House Bill 1 removes all penalties for cannabis possession for adults 21 and older, allowing adults to purchase, possess, use, display or transport personal use quantities of cannabis and accessories. The “personal use” quantity is defined as up to 1 ounce of flower, 12 grams of concentrate, or 750 milligrams of THC, according to the bill text.
House Bill 2, the Delaware Marijuana Control Act, regulates and taxes adult-use cannabis.
HB 2 creates the Delaware Marijuana Control Act Oversight Committee, which will work with the state’s Division of Public Health, Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, Medical Marijuana Program and the public to implement the legislation. Under HB2, cannabis may not be sold in an establishment licensed to sell alcohol, and consumption is prohibited in public.
The legislation also designates 60 cultivation licenses, 30 retail licenses, 30 manufacturing licenses and five testing licenses to be issued, including specific allotments for microbusiness and/or social equity applicants.
“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,” Carney said. “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.”