Delaware Governor Vetoes Cannabis Legalization Bill

Cannabis advocates in Delaware seek an override after the governor strikes down a cannabis legalization bill.

On Tuesday, Delaware Governor John Carney vetoed HB 371, which would legalize possession of up to one ounce of cannabis for adults over 21.

The bill had passed the House of Representatives with a 26-14 vote and the Senate with a 13-7 vote.

In a press release, Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) noted that Governor Carney is the only Democratic governor to veto a cannabis legalization bill.

People Want Legal Cannabis

Polling indicates that most Delaware residents, along with Americans in the rest of the country, believe cannabis should be legal.

Currently, eighteen states, two territories, and Washington D.C. have legalized cannabis for adults, and 37 have enacted medical-use cannabis policies.

According to estimates, Delaware could generate more than $40 million in annual revenue from cannabis legalization and taxation.

MPP Senior Policy Analyst Olivia Naugle says Goveror Carney’s veto is a true injustice as HB 371 would drastically reduce police-cannabis interactions in Delaware.

“We know cannabis laws are unequally enforced, and it is black Delawareans who are disproportionately stopped, searched, and penalized for cannabis or for the supposed smell of cannabis,” says Naugle. “After condemning the traumatic search of the DSU women’s lacrosse team in Georgia, Gov. Carney has failed to stand for justice for the same types of intrusive searches at homes in Delaware by vetoing HB 371.”

Legalizing in Delaware

While HB 371 would not legalize adult-use sales or create a framework for its implementation, a separate bill, HB 372, would address those details.

HB 372 failed to gain the 25 votes needed to pass on the House floor, but bill sponsor Representative Ed Osienski (D) changed his yes to no.

Representative Osienski’s vote change allows him to have the bill reconsidered before the end of the legislative session on June 30.

Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network Executive Director Zoë Patchell says people are deeply disappointed by Governor Carney’s unwillingness to listen to what voters want regarding cannabis legalization.

“A strong majority of Delaware voters support cannabis legalization and want to see the state stop wasting resources on punishing individuals for activities that are legal in 18 other states,” says Patchell. “We call on the legislature to take immediate action to override this veto.”

A veto override requires 25 votes in the House and 13 votes in the Senate.

To override the veto, Delaware lawmakers must act before the end of the legislative session.