The following blog post was authored by Delaware NORML Board Member Lizzie Golob.

The First State is lagging behind on an important policy. Cannabis legalization is long overdue in Delaware. 

Last year we were as close to changing Delaware’s cannabis laws as the Eagles were to winning the Super Bowl. The legislature passed a bill that would have eliminated penalties for possessing up to one ounce of cannabis. Then Gov. Carney vetoed that bill like bad holding call.

Today, we need the support of the entire region to ensure that marijuana arrests stop in Delaware. Then we can start the process of regulating cannabis as soon as possible.

A poll by the University of Delaware in 2018 showed that 61 percent of Delawareans support cannabis legalization. This percentage has, no doubt, continued to rise. 

By now we know that cannabis is not as harmful as many other things we consume regularly in America, like alcohol or even ibuprofen. Centuries of data shows that not one person has died from an overdose of cannabis, unlike so many other substances that people consume every day. 

Adults should have the right to consume cannabis as easily as we choose a beer or a pizza. 

The beginning of Delaware’s 2023 legislative session shows great promise to finally reach the goal of legalization. A flight of two bills has been introduced to get us there: House Bill 1 legalizes cannabis for adults 21 and over, and decriminalizes possession for all ages; House Bill 2 creates a regulated retail market for adults to purchase cannabis.

Both of these bills have passed out of their respective House committees and are poised for House floor votes in March. I only wish they were a sure thing to pass. 

I spoke at both committee hearings for HB 1 and HB 2 as a cannabis consumer activist. I believe that it’s very important for people to have personal freedoms and that we should help people live healthier lives. As someone who was prescribed multiple controlled substances (including fentanyl) for my chronic pain, I was barely living until I found cannabis. 

Having safe access to cannabis would provide alternatives to prescribed opioids for pain management for so many people in our communities. I know this fact firsthand because for nearly seven years after a car accident I was prescribed a serious regime of pain pills. When I medically retired from teaching in 2016, a job that demanded workplace drug testing , I was able to make a more natural choice and switched to cannabis. 

Cannabis provided me the relief I needed without all the harmful side effects of opioids, including addiction. I’m now able to spend time with my family and not be drowsy on pills. 

Prohibition is still harming our communities every single day. That’s why New Jersey, New York, and Maryland have joined so many other states in stopping marijuana possession arrests and taxing cannabis. Research shows that prohibition enforcement disproportionately targets communities of color. And yes, people are still being locked up over having a small amount of this non-toxic plant in Delaware. 

Delaware deserves to go green in 2023. We deserve regulated cannabis.

For more information, please contact Delaware NORML. Delaware residents can contact their individual legislators in support of HB 1 and HB 2 via NORML’s Take Action Center.

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