Delaware lawmakers take first step toward legalizing an adult-use cannabis market

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A state House committee in Delaware advanced an adult-use cannabis bill that focuses in large part on social equity and small businesses, the initial step toward legalizing a commercial market.

The House Health and Human Development Committee on Wednesday approved a Democratic-sponsored HB 305, the Delaware Marijuana Control Act, along mostly party lines.

The bill needs to be considered by the House Appropriations Committee before heading to the full chamber for a vote. There, it would need a 60% majority to pass, according to the Washington, DC-based Marijuana Policy Project.

The measure is slightly different from one approved by two House committees last year before the Legislature adjourned.

Within 19 months of the effective date of the legislation, the following licenses would be issued, according to a bill summary by MPP:

  • 30 retail, including 15 to social equity applicants.
  • 60 cultivation, including 20 to social equity applicants. Half the cultivation licenses would be set aside for small growers with less than 2,500 square feet of space.
  • 30 product manufacturers, including 10 to social equity applicants and 10 microbusinesses.
  • Five testing labs, including two to social equity applicants.

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A 15% tax would be levied on retail sales. Seven percent of the tax revenue would go to a Justice Reinvestment Fund.

State finance officials, according to the Associated Press, say the measure doesn’t adequately address tax enforcement, banking and indemnification of state employees who would be regulating a product still illegal under federal law.