A bill legalizing recreational marijuana use by adults in Delaware cleared its first legislative hurdle Wednesday as a Democratic-led committee voted along party lines, with one lone GOP vote, to send the measure to the House floor.
The bill creates a state-controlled and licensed pot industry that supporters say will eliminate the black market while creating jobs and boosting the state’s tax coffers.
While the proposal has significant support among Democratic lawmakers, Democratic Gov. John Carney has expressed concerns about legalization.
“The governor’s position hasn’t changed,” Carney spokesman Jonathan Starkey said in an email Wednesday. “He supported decriminalization and an expansion of Delaware’s medical marijuana program. But he still has concerns about legalizing recreational marijuana.”
Carney has not said, however, whether he would veto the legislation if it reaches his desk.
Critics argue that legalization will do little to eliminate the black market and will result in increased marijuana use among minors, more traffic deaths and injuries, and more people struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues.