Delaware expands medical marijuana program ahead of adult-use sales launch

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Delaware’s governor on Tuesday signed into law a vast expansion of the state’s medical marijuana program.

Under House Bill 285, anyone with a “diagnosed medical condition” who would “receive therapeutic or palliative benefit” from medical cannabis is now eligible for a state MMJ card, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

And adults 65 and older now can “self-certify” for medical marijuana without a doctor’s recommendation.

Adult-use law unchanged

The MMJ expansion signed Tuesday by Gov. Jay Carney doesn’t affect the state’s adult-use statute, which the governor signed into law last year.

Adult-use sales in Delaware likely won’t begin until after March 2025, when the first retail and lab-testing licenses are expected to be awarded.

In the meantime, the state’s medical marijuana program is the only route for access to regulated cannabis.

MMJ sales are not taxed in Delaware, while adult-use sales will be subject to a 15% levy, according to state officials.

Delaware’s MMJ law previously allowed only patients suffering from a specific “debilitating medical condition” to access medical marijuana.

Some conditions, such as fibromyalgia, were absent from the list.

12 dispensaries serve 29,000 patients

And only 29,000 patients were enrolled in Delaware’s program as of fall 2023, according to state data.

Six licensed companies operated 12 MMJ dispensaries in the state in 2023, according to the Office of the Marijuana Commissioner’s annual report.

MMJ sales in Delaware totaled $53.8 million in 2023, the report noted.

Delaware’s MMJ law now more closely resembles early state medical marijuana programs such as those in California and Colorado, which some critics called too lax and permissive.

However, with adult-use legalization sweeping across the country, some states have taken steps to encourage further participation in medical marijuana programs.

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