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Delaware Governor Signs Bill To Expand Medical Marijuana Access By Letting Doctors Recommend It For Any Condition



Delaware’s governor has signed a bill to significantly expand the state’s medical cannabis program as regulators take steps to launch the recreational marijuana market.

The new law approved by Gov. John Carney (D) on Tuesday removes limitations for patient eligibility based on a specific set of qualifying health conditions. Instead, doctors will be able to issue marijuana recommendations for any condition they see fit.

The measure will also allow patients over the age of 65 to self-certify for medical cannabis access without the need for a doctor’s recommendation.

Here are the key provisions of the medical cannabis expansion legislation, HB 285:

  • The list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana will be removed, allowing doctors to recommend cannabis for any condition that they believe patients could benefit from.
  • Patients 65 or older will be able to self-certify their need for medical cannabis—without any need for a recommendation from a healthcare provider.
  • Regulators will be authorized to issue medical cannabis cards with two- or three-year terms, instead of just the current one-year term.
  • Patients diagnosed with a terminal illness, meanwhile, will be able to qualify for a card with an “indefinite” expiration date.
  • The measure will provide patients with medical marijuana cards from other jurisdictions with the same privileges as registered in-state patients.

Last week, a House panel approved a separate bill to launch recreational marijuana sales early through existing medical cannabis dispensaries—disregarding concerns from activists who argue the measure will give current businesses run by multi-state operators an unfair advantage.

A Delaware Senate committee separately passed a House-approved bill last month that would enact state-level protections for banks that provide services to licensed marijuana businesses.

All of the bills are sponsored by Rep. Ed Osienski (D), who championed that marijuana legalization legislation that was enacted into law last year. The governor allowed the two related legalization proposals to take effect without his signature.

The new marijuana-related legislative developments come as regulators are rolling out a series of proposed regulations to stand up the forthcoming adult-use cannabis market. The current timeline puts the launch of the market at March 2025, according to Delaware Marijuana Commissioner Robert Coupe.

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Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 20-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.


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