Marijuana in Delaware: Would Gov. John Carney veto legal weed?
As Democrats seek for one or two more House votes on a bill to legalize recreational marijuana in Delaware, Gov. John Carney wouldn't say Tuesday whether he would veto the proposal.
Carney, a Democrat, has consistently opposed legalizing marijuana. His stance veers from his party that controls state government despite public opinion polling over the past several years finding most of his constituents want it legalized.
But it's still unclear whether he'd veto this year's legal weed bill, House Bill 150 by Rep. Ed Osienski, D-Newark, should the Democratic-controlled General Assembly send it to his desk.
The bill, which would let people 21 years or older buy up to an ounce of weed from a licensed seller, is slated for a House vote Thursday. If it passes, it would then head to the Senate.
On Tuesday, Carney did not directly answer a question on whether he'd veto the bill.
Instead, he said his administration routinely stresses the importance of public health during his briefings and that, as lieutenant governor, he tried "to get to Delawareans to stop smoking."
"I just think it's a bad thing," Carney said during his weekly COVID-19 briefing. "We'll have to see what the Legislature does and then take it at that point. I just think it's a bad idea, as I've said time and time again. The bill itself has some flaws that need to be fixed."
It may not even make it far enough to warrant his opinion. Despite putting it on Thursday's agenda, House Democrats still aren't sure whether the bill will pass.
In an interview with Delaware Online/The News Journal on Tuesday, House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear, said Osienski is still working with lawmakers in both parties on "some negotiations" to get the votes needed.
"I think it's one, two votes off right now," she said.
While Democrats hold a three-fifths majority in both chambers — which is the number of votes needed to pass the policy since it taxes the plant at 15% — the party has historically been split over legalizing marijuana, even as some Republicans have supported it.
That became clear when some Democrats did not vote for a similar legal weed bill in 2018, leading to its failure in the House.
Rep. Stephanie Bolden, D-Wilmington, and House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, who are both still in office, abstained from voting on the 2018 bill while Rep. Jeffrey Spiegelman, R-Clayton, voted for it.
A 2018 poll from the University of Delaware Center for Political Communication found that 61% of Delawareans supported legal marijuana.
Lawmakers are in session until June 30 before going on a six-month break.
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Sarah Gamard covers government and politics for Delaware Online/The News Journal. Reach her at (302) 324-2281 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @SarahGamard.