Delaware Lawmaker Will Reintroduce Cannabis Legalization Bill in January

An adult-use legalization bill stalled in the House earlier this year after debate over a social equity fund included in the legislation.

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An adult-use cannabis legalization bill gained momentum in the Delaware House this spring before it ultimately stalled after debate over a social equity fund included in the legislation.

Now, the sponsor behind that legislation, Rep. Ed Osienski (D-Newark), has plans to reintroduce a substitute bill in January, when the Legislature reconvenes for its 2022 legislative session, according to a Cape Gazette report.

“I hope to get this done before Washington takes steps, because this will give Delaware businesses a head start before the federal government changes its regulations,” Osienski told the news outlet. “States that didn’t take this action will be slow starting out, whereas states that have will have a head start and be able to sell their product across state borders.”

Last year’s attempt at legalization, H.B. 150, included a social equity fund that would have provided grants or loans to minority business owners to operate cannabis businesses in areas that have been disproportionately impacted by prohibition. The legislation did not specifically outline how the fund would be financially supported, and when Osienski filed an amendment to address funding, some legislators argued that it weakened the bill, the Cape Gazette reported.

Osienski told the news outlet that a group is currently working on revised language to clarify that a commission will work to create a social equity fund for minority applicants.

The new legislation will levy a 15% tax on adult-use cannabis sales and includes a $10,000 licensing fee for businesses.

The House defeated another adult-use legalization bill on the floor in 2018, according to the Cape Gazette, but the state adopted a decriminalization measure in 2015 that reduces the penalty for low-level cannabis possession from criminal to civil charges.

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