Two marijuana bills await committee action

One adds more medical uses; second offers expungement of possession convictions
May 28, 2018

Story Location:
411 Legislative Avenue
Dover, DE 19901
United States

The General Assembly continues to make its way through the 149th session, and marijuana-related legislation continues to pop up.

Most recently, a bill expanding the list of conditions qualifying for the state’s medical marijuana program was introduced, as was a bill paving the way for expungement of marijuana possession convictions.

House Bill 374 was introduced April 17 by Speaker of the House Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth. Sen. Ernie Lopez, R-Lewes, is a sponsor.

The bill adds glaucoma and chronic debilitating migraines to the conditions eligible for medical marijuana treatment. Originally, the bill also added pediatric autism spectrum disorder and pediatric sensory processing disorder to the list, but a Schwartzkopf-sponsored amendment, made April 25, removed those conditions before the bill passed the House May 1.

Schwartzkopf said he removed the two pediatric conditions because the Department of Health and Social Services had already approved autism spectrum disorder through the patient-petitioning process. Schwartskopf said there isn’t enough science to support including sensory processing disorder.

Janie Maedler, whose daughter Rylie inspired Rylie’s Law allowing pediatric patients with seizures the right to use marijuana-based oils as medicine in Delaware, has been an advocate for pediatric patients in the state for years.

She said she thought it was best to gather more evidence on the pediatric sensory processing disorder before adding it to the list of eligible disorders.

 “I believe there might be some people who have had benefits, but we need unbiased evidence,” Maedler said.

HB374 hasn’t seen any action since being assigned May 3 to the Senate Health, Children & Social Services Committee, but the General Assembly has been on break since May 14 while the joint finance committee marked up next year’s budget.

Senate Bill 197 was introduced May 8 by Senate Minority Whip Sen. Greg Lavelle, R-Sharpley. The bill provides mandatory expungement eligibility to people who were convicted of the possession, use or consumption of marijuana prior to Delaware’s decriminalization of these offenses. To be eligible for mandatory expungement, the marijuana conviction must be the applicant’s only criminal conviction.

Neither Lopez or Schwartzkopf are sponsors of the bill, but they both said they support it.

Everybody deserves a second chance, Lopez said, adding individuals shouldn’t be left out of society because of minor past offenses.

SB197 has also been assigned to the Senate Health, Children & Social Services Committee and also has seen no action.


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