By this time next year, medical marijuana patients across the state could have nearly double the purchasing options.
There are currently six compassion centers in Delaware. First State has two, one in Wilmington and one in Lewes; Columbia Care has three, one in all three counties; and Fresh Cannabis has one in Newark.
The state’s Medical Marijuana Program issued a request for applications in the fall. In an email Feb. 11, Paul Hyland, director of the Office of Medical Marijuana, said licenses were awarded to three vendors – Valor Craft Cannabis Company, CannaTech Research Inc., and EzyCure LLC – which have plans to open a total of five new dispensaries. He said Valor expects to open a dispensary in New Castle during the first quarter of 2022; CannaTech expects to open in Dover and Georgetown by the fourth quarter of 2021; and EzyCure expects to open in Felton and Middletown in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Hyland said 10 separate companies submitted 11 bids. CannaTech submitted two bids, one for growing and retail, and one for retail only.
The awarding of these licenses is in direct relation to the popularity of a medicinal option that has grown much larger than anticipated. Hyland said when the law was passed in 2011, analysts expected the patient population to top out around 4,700 to 5,000 patients. The current patient population is 11,500 and there are now multiple user card types issued by the state, he said.
State auditor supports legalizing marijuana
State Auditor Kathy McGuiness has come out in favor of legalizing marijuana.
In a special report issued Jan. 25, McGuiness said the state is losing millions in tax revenue by not taxing and regulating marijuana. According to her report, the state stands to realize an estimated $43 million of potential revenue.
“Marijuana legalization saw the light of day in the Legislature over the years, but this year public opinion stands at an all-time high. With nearby states like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, and Virginia on the cusp of legalization and implementation, Delaware should apply the same consideration,” said McGuiness. “It's time to legalize it.”
The report also says that in addition to tax revenue, the legal marijuana industry is responsible for job creation. Delaware could stand to gain more than 1,400 jobs in a five-year period, says the report.
McGuiness concludes her report by saying support for legalizing marijuana does not mean supporting marijuana consumption. Legalization done right would allow Delaware to establish a policy framework to suppress the black market, curb usage through regulation for minors, and collect revenue on a market demand that seems only to be increasing, she said, adding it would eliminate arrests and keep people out of prison.
“Each year that we fail to capitalize on this opportunity means more money could flow to neighboring states instead of being invested here. It is time Delaware pursue legalizing marijuana,” said McGuiness.