Marijuana discussion well deserved
Delaware's Legislature is taking a hard look at legalizing marijuana. This won't happen without considerable debate. The state's generally conservative nature means it prefers to see other larger and more-populated states lead in test-driving politically risky laws. Being careful has often kept the state out of trouble.
As a result, House Bill 110 includes conditions and provisions intended to address downsides of legalizing marijuana for adult purchase and consumption, and to make passage a responsible action with more benefits than problems.
Lawmakers recognized the medicinal value of marijuana when they passed legislation in 2011. Then, in 2015, legislators further minimized problems for marijuana users when they decriminalized adult possession. Decriminalization doesn't legalize sale for adult use, but it does allow those who possess the natural leaf to consume it without fear of being labeled criminals.
That's a big step toward removing restrictions that taint the freedom valued by responsible people in the state and nation. Without responsible legalization, however, criminals still hold the monopoly on marijuana sales. That leaves the state with education and enforcement expenses but none of the tax revenues included in HB110.
Delaware is losing out on millions in annual revenues from an activity in which thousands of state residents engage, and will continue to engage, regardless of whether it is legalized.
Our state typically leans toward pragmatic rather than moralistic arguments in controversial issues.
We're also a state that places high value on and invests heavily in education. Pragmatism and education go hand in hand.
Legalization would allow more general funding for education, rather than regulation, and as prescribed in the pending bill, would allow dollars to further bolster tobacco, drug and alcohol education in our schools and more public venues. Pending legislation calls for 30 percent of taxes to go toward education. That should be boosted to at least 50 percent. With or without legalization, drug, alcohol and tobacco education is more important than ever.
Delaware's lawmakers are showing good sense in giving legalization serious consideration.
The legislation bears careful watching as it's debated and amended on its journey through the House and Senate.