Marijuana advocates happy with legalization, but not satisfied

Dozens rally May 6 on Rehoboth Boardwalk as part of annual Global Cannabis March
May 9, 2023

Story Location:
Rehoboth Beach Bandstand
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
United States

As part of the annual Global Cannabis March, advocates rallied May 6 in Rehoboth Beach to celebrate the state’s recent legalization of the drug. However, advocates say the work is not complete.

“We are not free until we are all free,” said Zoë Patchell, Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network executive director, while standing at the Bandstand after the march.

This was the 10th year for the march in Delaware; it’s been held elsewhere for 50 years. The first march was in New York City in 1973. Organizers of the local march said more than 200 cities around the world participated in the march this year.

After a years-long battle, marijuana became legal in Delaware April 23 after Gov. John Carney decided to take no action on a pair of bills that legalized the drug and created a regulatory framework to tax and place fees on a marijuana industry.

The people in attendance at the May 6 march were excited about the recent change in state law, but they also have a list of issues they want addressed.

Beginning with the state’s federal delegation, Patchell encouraged marchers and people within earshot of the Bandstand to contact Sen. Tom Carper, Sen. Chris Coons and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester to move forward with decriminalization at the federal level. 

Ralliers also said it’s still too hard for people to become medical marijuana patients in Delaware, and they shouldn’t be criticized for not wanting to use opioids as treatment. Patchell said consumers shouldn’t be penalized for choosing the healthier, safer alternative.

There was a call for home cultivation. People can grow their own hops to brew their own beer, said Patchell. People should be able to grow pot in their own home too, she said.

“It’s about common-sense policies,” said Patchell.

There was also a call for removing the limit on the amount of marijuana a person can have. The new law allows an adult to possess up to an ounce. Cannabis should be treated like alcohol, said Patchell. Students at the University of Delaware are allowed to buy as much alcohol as they want, she said.

John Sybert, Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network vice president, warned of new legislation being introduced at the state level that he called “sore loser laws.” For example, said Sybert, there’s already been a bill introduced in Dover – Senate Bill 100 – that makes it a violent felony for people to have large amounts of marijuana.

SB100 was introduced April 26 in the Senate Judiciary Committee by New Castle County Democrat Sen. Spiros Mantzanivos – three days after marijuana became legal. The bill was released from committee May 3. According to the synopsis, this bill adds drug dealing or possession to the Tier 3 list of violent felonies in recognition of the association of higher drug volumes and gun violence.

Sybert added that cannabis advocates from Pennsylvania came to Delaware to support the First State’s efforts, so it’s time to return the favor and advocate in Pennsylvania.


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