Cannabis legalization is back in Delaware. The author of a reform bill that was voted down by the state House of Representatives last month introduced two complementary new measures to implement the policy change. This new initiative appears to have at least the tentative support of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who is otherwise opposed to legalization.
Congressman Ed Osienski’s first attempt to pass a measure to tax and regulate cannabis for adult use was a failure. Rejected by the House, despite receiving a majority of votes, it was two votes short of achieving it.
Today, the legislator is back with a different approach. He introduced two bills late last month: One would simply legalize the possession and sharing of up to one ounce of cannabis (about 28 grams) for adults 21 and more, and the other would create specific regulations for the cannabis trade that largely resemble the previous bill, which was defeated by the House.
Osienski’s reasoning behind this dual approach is strategic. Since the first bill would simply remove criminal penalties for certain marijuana-related activities, it would only require a simple majority to pass. And he already got those votes on the previous legalization bill.
If the House approves this bill, it would “put extra pressure on some colleagues to say, ‘OK, it’s legalized. To get it right, we need to create an industry that will provide these services now,” the lawmaker told Delaware Public Radio.
That added pressure could even win over House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, who was the only House Democrat to vote against the previous legalization bill.
In a radio interview by WHYY, the Speaker of the House said he still intends to vote “no” to the simple legalization proposal, but may well vote “yes” to separate legislation on legalization if the first bill passed first despite his objections.
“If you’re going to tell me that cannabis is legal and you come back to me later at another time and say, ‘Well, it’s legal – are you going to tax it? “. My vote will probably be yes,” he said.
“I don’t vote for cannabis. I’m just voting to tax the cannabis that everyone else has made legal,” Schwartzkopf said, adding that he’s long believed legalization is inevitable and that if he won’t “help” it move forward, he’s not going to “stop” it.