Rep. Keeley Introduces Bill to Create Cannabis Task Force

DOVER — After diligently working and gaining support for cannabis legalization over the past five months, Rep. Helene Keeley filed legislation Friday that would create a cannabis task force to give lawmakers more definitive answers on how the program would operate.   

The draft measure would create a task force to make recommendations and focus on regulations around cannabis legalization for adults over age 21 in the First State. Issues to be discussed include local authority and control, consumer safety, substance abuse prevention, impaired driving concerns and taxation.

Currently, House Bill 110, which Rep. Keeley introduced in March, would establish a commissioner to regulate, tax and distribute cannabis legally in Delaware, modeled off of existing laws governing the regulation of alcohol. It was released from committee and now is awaiting a vote in the full House.

There is growing support for cannabis legalization, but this task force would specifically lay out how legalization would be administered. The ultimate goal would be to give legislators an idea of those regulations, and secure their votes for legalization.

“This is uncharted territory for the First State, and we want to make sure we are fully prepared to execute cannabis legalization safely and effectively. By studying the experiences of other states that have taxed and regulated cannabis, we will be able to learn from them,” said Rep. Keeley. “It was important for me to bring all the necessary stakeholders to the table so they are able to weigh in on these decisions. We have the opportunity to create an entirely new industry in the first state and we want to make sure we get it right.

Public support has been growing for legalization. Already eight states and the District of Columbia have regulated marijuana for legal use by adults over age 21. And a University of Delaware poll has indicated that 61 percent of Delaware voters support legalizing cannabis.

Under this bill, the task force representation will include members of the Department of Agriculture, Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, marijuana policy reform and AAA Mid-Atlantic. A report will be due to the members of the General Assembly and the Governor by Jan. 31, 2018.