Wilmington, DE – Members of the Wilmington City Council have approved a resolution urging the Delaware General Assembly to pass HB150, the adult-use cannabis legalization bill.

The measure was sponsored by Council member Zanthia Oliver and co-sponsored by nine of the thirteen council members, including City Council President Congo. It passed with twelve ‘yes’ votes. Council member Nathan Fields abstained.  

Wilmington City Council members voiced resounding support for the resolution. Many agreed that Delaware was overdue to pass full cannabis legalization, and some took time to dispel common misconceptions often repeated by anti-marijuana groups.

Councilmember and attorney Chris Johnson noted, “People will say, ‘Well, we can’t test for marijuana and people driving.’ Look, — people still do it now. So, that is just a fallacy; that is something that they throw out there. [Police] still do it now.  They have ways to look and see if a person is inebriated. That is not going to change if this law passes. So, let’s use our common sense…”  

Council member Linda Gray asked to be added as a co-sponsor during the hearing, and stated, “Out West and in Europe they are even using marijuana to rehab drug addicted persons. It reduces the anxiety and the depression. So that is another use for cannabis—the mental health use.”

Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network (Delaware CAN) Director of Community Relations and Wilmington resident, Vanity Sanders, also agrees that adult-use legalization is well overdue in Delaware and commends Wilmington City Council for passing a resolution to support HB150, which she believes will greatly help the city.

“Cannabis legalization is the first step to repairing and rebuilding the communities in Delaware that have been most impacted by prohibition, like Wilmington,” said Sanders, “HB150 will reduce arrests and create much needed jobs and business opportunities for our city and state to help reduce the unemployment rate, especially post-pandemic.” 

Sanders noted, “Our city is only a few miles away from New Jersey, so it doesn’t make sense to keep penalizing people for conduct that is now legal across the bridge. It is so important for our legislators that represent Wilmington to support this commonsense measure.” 

The two-page resolution makes mention of the social and economic benefits of legalization, noting how it will eliminate the dangerous illicit market, generate millions in revenue, and create thousands of “desperately needed new jobs.”

Zoë Patchell, Executive Director for Delaware CAN, says that this year’s bill, in particular, has more opportunities intended to ensure that impacted communities in Wilmington and other areas throughout the state do not get left behind in the industry.

“States from Michigan to Oregon have legalized and found that communities targeted for marijuana arrests were being left out of the new cannabis industry.” Patchell said.

“Access to large amounts of capital, as well as past convictions for cannabis offenses, civil asset forfeiture of property and money, and a host of other collateral consequences caused by prohibition create significant hurdles for people trying to own a business or obtain employment in the legal industry. HB150 specifically carves out an avenue for those who live in areas that have been disproportionately impacted by this harmful policy, and it removes and reduces barriers to entry, allowing opportunities for all, instead of limiting to a selected few who have the resources to participate,” said Patchell. 

Research shows that Black residents are targeted for a disproportionate amount of cannabis arrests, despite near-equal consumption rates across races. A 2020 ACLU report, A Tale of Two Countries, states that Delaware ranks 15th highest in the nation for racial disparities in marijuana arrests, with Black consumers 4.2 times more likely to be arrested than a white consumer.

HB150 passed the House Health and Human Development Committee by a 10 to 5 vote last month and is awaiting a vote in the House Appropriations Committee before it goes to the House floor for a vote. Send a message to members of the Appropriation Committee in support of HB150 now!

The measure is supported by 61% of Delawareans, according to a 2018 University of Delaware poll.

Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network is an all-volunteer, citizen-led, grassroots advocacy group. Since 2013 our members have been advocating to remove all criminal penalties for cannabis, initiate criminal justice reforms for those adversely affected by cannabis prohibition, and replace the current illicit cannabis market with a safe, legal, and well-regulated industry. 

See the text of the Wilmington City Council Resolution #0052. Watch the Wilmington City Council members discuss the resolution (2:09:03).

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