Delaware to legalize marijuana… sort of

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The State Senate of Delaware has submitted legislation that would decriminalize (legalize) marijuana possession, use and distribution for people with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other diseases for which using marijuana would ease their suffering.

Delaware Governor Jack Markell is expected to sign the bill soon.

According to the Wilmington News Journal newspaper, Delaware will have one of the nation’s strictest medical marijuana laws, with regulations covering everything from the quality of the drug to how it is transported.

There is no other bill like the bill we just passed here in Delaware, said Senate Majority Whip Margaret Rose Henry, a Democrat who was the bill's sponsor.

For example, Delawareans who receive permission to use pot to alleviate their sickness will not be able to grow the herb at home – rather, they will have to obtain it from state-licensed dispensaries.

Moreover, glaucoma patients in Delaware will not be able to legally use marijuana. Nor will patients suffering from Crohn's disease and early stages of hepatitis C.

They will also be strict restrictions on where the marijuana can be consumed and how much. People with felony records will be disqualified as well from the program.

Qualified patients will be permitted to purchase up to six ounces of pot each month.

Under the bill, the Department of Health and Social Services will issue one dispensary license in each of the state’s three counties to a not-for-profit organization.

Fifteen other states have already legalized medical marijuana.

Delaware officials do not know how many of Delaware’s 900,000 residents may register under the medical marijuana program.

Sen. Colin Bonini, a Republican, opposed the bill, warning that it could lead to full legalization.

We're going to have a lot of marijuana in Delaware, he said. It's bad enough we're doing something that's very bad public policy. But we're making taxpayers pay for it.

A blogger on a Delaware newspaper criticized the bill, saying: “Why not legalize it for everybody? The law can probably be challenged in court as it discriminates against those who are healthy but smoke marijuana for recreation. It's OK to possess and use if you have cancer, HIV or AIDS, but not if you don't. That's really fair. Because we all know that ONLY those with debilitating diseases will get prescriptions, don't we? The script doctors are licking their chops right now. It will be interesting to chart how many Delawareans suddenly discover some ailment that will allow them to purchase six ounces a month. Six ounces a month. What are they going to do? Smoke 24/7. Then we as taxpayers will have to also pay for their bronchitis.”

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