A rally in support of overturning Gov. John Carney’s veto of legalized marijuana is planned for noon, Tuesday, June 7, at Legislative Hall in Dover.
Veterans and activists with DENORML and Delaware CAN kicked off a statewide campaign urging legislators to override Carney’s May 24 veto of a bill that would legalize marijuana for adults. The General Assembly had passed the bill that would legally allow adults to have up to an ounce of marijuana, and the Legislature can override Carney’s veto with three-fifths votes in each chamber. The Legislature returns from a two-week break June 7.
James Baldus, a DENORML board member, served eight years in Pennsylvania Army National Guard before a medical discharge in 2016. The husband and father to three kids says he was almost a VA statistic of opioid addiction. Now, he just wants to spend time with his fellow vets and use cannabis. “This should be a matter of personal choice. An ounce of marijuana should not be the cause of stigma, judgment or criminal punishment.”
Advocates say House Bill 371 would not only legalize the drug, but would prevent nearly 6,000 cannabis possession offenses every year. They also said it would prevent law enforcement from using the real, perceived or alleged odor of cannabis as probable cause to perform warrantless searches.
U.S. Air Force veteran Mike Wirtschafter said cannabis saved his life and helped him stop using an extensive cocktail of pills prescribed by doctors with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He said VA doctors are barred by federal law from writing medical marijuana recommendations, and legalizing cannabis for adult use in Delaware is the best way for veterans to access it.
“The veto is a slap in the face to every veteran who wants to be proactive with our healthcare,” Wirtschafter said. “VA doctors can’t sign off on a medical card, but they can shove harmful and addictive pills down our throats.”
Baldus said legislation to legalize marijuana is important since residents do not have the chance to vote for legalization through referendum.
“Passing this bill would allow me to legally share a joint with other like-minded veterans,” he said. “If a fellow vet is down on his luck and in need of some support, I should not be penalized for sharing a few joints and some good conversation with them.”