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Majority Of Delaware Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Legalization Bill, But It Fails

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A majority of lawmakers in the Delaware House of Representatives have voted in favor of legislation to legalize marijuana possession and sales but, because of procedural rules requiring supermajority support, it did not advance.

The proposal, which received 21 yes votes to 15 no votes (with 5 members not voting) would have allowed adults over 21 years of age to legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana as well as five grams of cannabis concentrates. A system of regulated and taxed marijuana production and sales would also have been authorized, but home cultivation was not included in the proposal.

TheĀ legislation’sĀ sponsor, Rep. Helene Keeley (D),Ā moved toĀ amend the bill from its initial draftĀ in an attempt to garner backing from more colleagues.

Because theĀ legislationĀ contains provisions dealing with taxes and fees, it needed the support of at least 60%Ā of House lawmakers to advance underĀ the General Assembly’sĀ rules. It fell four votes short of that requirement.

Even if the bill had cleared the House, its fate in the Senate before Saturday’s end-of-session legislative deadline was uncertain. And even if it passed there, Gov. John Carney (D) has said he’s not yet ready to support legalization, though it isĀ not clear if he would have gone so far as to veto the lawmaker-approved bill if it arrived on his desk.

Despite the formal loss, the legislative action is one of only a handful of times in history that a marijuana legalization bill received majority support on the floor of a state legislative body in the U.S.

Earlier this year, Vermont lawmakersĀ approved a bill to legalize low-level cannabis possessionĀ and home cultivation. The proposal was signed into law by Gov. Phil Scott (R) andĀ goes into effect this weekend.

New Hampshire’s House of Representatives alsoĀ approved a marijuana legalization billĀ this year, but it did not advance further in the legislative process.

The development in Delaware comes one day after voters in OklahomaĀ overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure to legalize medical cannabis.

Voters in several other states are expected toĀ consider marijuana ballot measuresĀ during the November general election.

This piece was first published by Forbes.

Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

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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 Marijuana.com and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

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