Delaware Public Media

Sussex County marijuana dispensary announced

Oct 25, 2016

First State Compassion Center will soon have control of two of Delaware’s three medical marijuana dispensaries.

State officials won’t say where the Sussex County retail shop will be, but all growing operations will take place in its New Castle County location just outside of Wilmington.

Last month, Columbia Care won a contract to open Kent County’s dispensary, but its address is also a secret.

Medical marijuana card holders have frequently criticized the state for moving at a glacial pace to implement the program. Gov. Jack Markell (D) signed the bill into law in 2011, but the first dispensary didn't open until the summer of 2015.

“We are happy that patients in Sussex and Kent Counties will have a closer location and they won’t have to drive all the way up to Wilmington to obtain their nontoxic, all natural medicines," said Zoe Patchell, co-chair of the Cannabis Bureau of Delaware.

But Patchell says full legalization is the only path forward that makes sense.

“Cannabis prohibition is logically unsustainable at this point with four states plus [Washington D.C.] that have full taxation and regulation of cannabis like alcohol and there are five more slated to follow suit on the Nov. 8 ballot," she said.

61 percent of Delawareans want to legalize the drug, according to a recent University of Delaware poll.

Thousands of people have signed an online petition calling for such a move in recent weeks.

Sen. Margaret Rose Henry (D-Wilmington East) told the News Journal this month she would propose legislation to do just that, while her senate colleague and gubernatorial candidate Colin Bonini (R-Dover South) said he would sign such a bill if elected.

But Bonini's opponent, Congressman John Carney (D), said he wants to further study recreational marijuana programs in western states before he commits to supporting the issue.

Delaware law doesn't allow for direct voter referendums, which have been used to approve legal weed in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada residents are considering similar measures this year.