Delaware Public Media

Recreational pot task force kicks off meetings

Sep 10, 2017

The task force set up to study legalizing recreational cannabis met for the first time last week. It's scheduled to meet for two hours on the first Wednesday of each month through the rest of the year.


It's made up of experts, lawmakers, agency heads and interest groups to hash out the issues and deliver a report to the governor and state legislature by the end of January.

Brendan O’Neill, the state's chief Public Defender, said cannabis could be treated like alcohol - legal, but regulated.

“About a 100,000 people in the state are already using this on a regular basis," he said. "And as a community or as a state, it’s not a good idea to have laws that are disregarded on a wholesale basis. I mean, we don’t want to have laws that people ignore. It breeds disrespect for all our other laws.”

Delaware sees the considerable amount of tax revenues states with legalized pot are pulling in, but some task force members point to unintended consequences like children eating cannabis edibles or a rise in impaired driving.

Bill Bryson, chairman of the Delaware Police Chief’s Council, said the group has several public safety concerns about allowing recreational pot. He said Colorado and Washington have seen increased crime and homelessness after legalizing marijuana.

“We’re concerned about the black market, which still exists in Colorado and Washington, and the gray market which exists in Colorado and Washington, where marijuana is grown legally and sold illegally," he said. "Walmart wouldn’t be in business if people didn’t look for the best price. So when you tax it, you’re going to raise the price and people are going to go elsewhere.”

State lawmakers abandoned an effort to allow sales of recreational marijuana to adults earlier this year. But a study by the University of Delaware taken last year shows a majority of residents support legalization.