Delaware Becomes 22nd State, Is Minnesota Lucky Number 23?
With Minnesota likely the next state to join the ever-expanding list of states that have legalized recreational marijuana, the Midwest has assumed centre stage in the ongoing debate in the United States about whether or not to legalize cannabis. The main issue on everyone’s mind following Delaware’s recent decision to legalize marijuana, which makes it the 22nd state to do so, is if Minnesota will make history by being fortunate number 23.
Last week, Governor John Carney of Delaware declared that he would sign two bills to legalize and regulate adult-use cannabis, effectively allowing them to become law. This move has made Delaware the 22nd state to legalize recreational marijuana.
Delaware legalized recreational marijuana on Sunday through the enactment of two bills, which Democratic Governor John Carney allowed to become law without signing them. This legislation, known as House Legislation 1 and 2, legalizes marijuana possession by adults and sets up a controlled system for producing and dispensing recreational cannabis. Carney said last week that he would allow these laws to become law despite having vetoed equivalent legislation last year and having certain reservations about the bill.
According to Governor Carney, the two bills remove state-level criminal and civil sanctions for minor marijuana possession and establish stringent controls for Delaware’s recreational cannabis sector. Although Governor Carney admitted that legalizing marijuana for recreational use is not a good step, he endorsed medical marijuana and Delaware’s decriminalization statute. He believes that incarcerating individuals for possessing small quantities of marijuana for personal use is no longer justified.
The bills, known as House Bill 1 (HB 1) and House Bill 2 (HB 2), were passed by both chambers of the Delaware legislature with significant bipartisan majorities that would render a potential veto irrelevant. HB 1 eliminates all sanctions for individuals aged 21 and over who possess marijuana for personal consumption. Meanwhile, HB 2 establishes a regulatory structure for the sale, cultivation, and possession of marijuana, offering licensing opportunities to small businesses and ensuring fair access to the new legal market for recreational cannabis by those who the War on Drugs has disproportionately impacted.
Delaware became the 22nd state in the nation to legalize cannabis for adults on Sunday when HB 1 went into effect. As per the governor’s announcement last week, HB 2 became effective on Thursday.
Governor Carney made history last year when he vetoed cannabis legalization bills, becoming the first Democratic governor. Although he has allowed the bills to become law this year, he opposes the idea and acknowledges that he only accepts the inevitable.
The governor acknowledged that although he is personally against the cannabis legalization bills, he is allowing them to become law to honour the legislative procedure. Osienki expressed his admiration for Carney’s stance this year and pledged to help facilitate the transition to legal marijuana in Delaware. According to Brian Vicente, a founding partner at Vicente LLP, a law firm specializing in cannabis and psychedelics, the legislation is a significant milestone in reforming cannabis policy in the United States. He anticipates further progress in 2023.
If everything goes as planned, the recreational cannabis industry in Minnesota is set to expand. On Tuesday, the state House of Representatives passed a measure to legalize adult-use marijuana with a 71-59 vote. The Minnesota Star Tribune reported that the state Senate is expected to pass its bill soon.
Governor Tim Walz has pledged to sign the bill into law if lawmakers are thriving, making Minnesota the 23rd state to legalize recreational cannabis fully. One issue that has caused disagreement among Minnesota lawmakers is local control for cities and counties that do not want to accept legal cannabis. The House-approved bill will not permit localities to quit marijuana commerce or revoke operators’ licenses directly.
Although the Senate and House have yet to resolve some differences between their bills, such as personal possession limits and state cannabis tax rates, progress is being made. CBS reported that personal consumption and possession would be legal this summer. Residents could grow up to eight cannabis plants per individual in each household. However, the cannabis market is not expected to launch until next year.
Lawmakers have until May 22, when the session ends, to agree on a final bill. Minnesota’s cannabis market has been a rollercoaster ride, starting with one of the most restrictive medical marijuana markets in the country. Only two companies were allowed to grow and produce MMJ products. It has since expanded to include an unregulated hemp edibles market, increasing calls for regulation and enforcement. As a result, regulators have begun taking legal action against companies that violate the law.
According to the Associated Press, the new bills propose the creation of a state agency called the Office of Cannabis Management, which would be responsible for drafting regulations and granting business licenses. Additionally, the bills prioritize social equity regarding licensing, as policymakers aim to correct the injustices caused by the War on Drugs.
Opinions around marijuana use are changing as the cannabis business develops and grows. It is getting harder for opponents of legalization to claim that it is a risky or foolish policy, as Delaware and possibly Minnesota join the ranks of states that have legalized cannabis for recreational use.
Creating a new state agency, the Office of Cannabis Management is a step in the right direction. However, some kinks remain to be worked out, such as personal possession restrictions and state cannabis tax rates. Social equity is given priority when applying for licenses, which reflects the aim to right historical wrongs and provide marginalized populations with a fair shot at entering the new, legal recreational cannabis market.
The ongoing effort to overhaul cannabis policies in the United States is a multifaceted challenge that demands thoughtful contemplation and strategic planning. Nonetheless, with each state that joins the movement to legalize cannabis, the way ahead becomes increasingly apparent, and the prospect of a world where cannabis is no longer shrouded in stigma or criminalization comes closer to reality. (Full Story)