Delaware Democratic Gov. John Carney reaffirmed his opposition to adult-use cannabis legalization but expressed receptiveness for decriminalization on May 16.
His comments came after the Democratic-controlled Delaware General Assembly sent a decriminalization bill to his desk last week with both chambers approving the legislation with three-fifths majorities.
The legislation, House Bill 371, intends to legalize the possession of up to 1 ounce of cannabis for adults 21 and older.
While Carney’s communications director, Emily David Hershman, said last week the governor’s position on cannabis had not changed following that bill’s passage, Carney told ABC-affiliate WMDT on Monday that he agrees with decriminalizing the plant.
“I don’t think it should be a criminal offense but this bill that passed just decriminalizes it. It doesn’t have a regulatory piece that goes with it,” Carney said. “So, we’re looking at the same concerns that I’ve been articulating for some time with respect to public safety and its effect on our young people, and we’ll continue to keep those in mind.”
But the governor did not say whether he would sign H.B. 371, according to the news outlet.
Under current Delaware laws and penalties, possessing up to 1 ounce of cannabis is a civil penalty punishable by a maximum $100 fine with no possibility of incarceration, while possessing between 1 ounce and 175 grams (roughly 6.2 ounces) is a misdemeanor punishable by up to three months of incarceration and a $575 fine. Possessing greater amounts is a felony.
While the governor reviews H.B. 371, Democratic Rep. Ed Osienski is also sponsoring complementary legislation, H.B. 372, which would legalize a regulated commercial market for cultivation and retail.
The latter bill, the Delaware Marijuana Control Act, made its way out of committee May 10 and was placed on the ready list for House floor consideration.