Delaware Adult-Use Bill Two Votes Shy of House Passage
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Delaware Adult-Use Bill Two Votes Shy of House Passage

The legislation needed 60% approval to pass; four representatives did not cast votes.

March 11, 2022

The majority of Delaware House lawmakers supported an adult-use cannabis bill during a floor vote March 10, but the legislation was defeated without the supermajority approval it needed.

Sponsored by Democratic Rep. Ed Osienski, House Bill 305 aimed to legalize the possession of up to 1 ounce of cannabis for adults 21 and older, promote equity and inclusion, and reinvest a portion of tax revenue into disproportionately impacted communities through a Justice Reinvestment Fund.

The bill also aimed to require regulators to issue up to 30 cannabis retail licenses within 16 months of its effective date.

House lawmakers voted, 23-14, almost entirely along party lines Thursday, with 23 Democrats casting yeses, and 13 Republicans and one Democrat casing no votes. House Speaker Peter Schwartzkopf was the lone Democrat in opposition.

The bill needed a three-fifths majority (25 votes) to pass in the 41-member chamber. Two Democrats did not cast votes—had they both voted yes, the measure would have passed.

The legislation was the first adult-use cannabis proposal to reach the House floor since a similar bill failed in 2018, the Delaware News Journal reported.

Osienski said in a statement that he was disappointed by the final outcome.  

“I still firmly believe that Delaware is more than capable of successfully enacting policies for safe and legal cannabis, and I will continue working on this issue to win the support to make it a reality,” he said. “Throughout my time in the House, I’ve seen advocates sway opponents to various bills, and I believe legal recreational marijuana for adult users is no different.”