Perhaps it’s something in the water. Former Delawarean Amtrak Joe is long known to be personally opposed to cannabis legalization, and apparently so is Governor John Carney. Carney has just vetoed the state’s recent legalization measure that would have allowed adult possession and use, stating that he does “not believe that promoting or expanding the use of recreational marijuana is in the best interests of the state.”
Carney continues, “Questions about the long-term health and economic impacts of recreational marijuana use, as well as serious law enforcement concerns, remain unresolved. I respect the Legislative Branch’s role in this process, and I understand that some hold a different view on this issue. However, I have been clear about my position since before I took office, and I have articulated my concerns many times.”
He did add an olive branch: “I recognize the positive effect marijuana can have for people with certain health conditions, and for that reason I continue to support the medical marijuana industry in Delaware. I supported decriminalization of marijuana because I agree that individuals should not be imprisoned solely for the possession and private use of a small amount of marijuana.”
So the mood among Delawareans who are supporters of establishing retail sales is quite bleak. Many legislators assumed they had a veto-proof majority, but now they are not so sure. The bill may again be brought up in the legislature in an attempt to override Carney’s veto, but this would require a three-fifths majority. While the legalization bill passed both the House and Senate by this margin, because Governor Carney is the de facto head of the Delaware Democratic party, some legislators may be reluctant to vote against the governor.
The General Assembly has been in recess, and there has been no public statement whether or not the bill’s chief sponsor, Representative Ed Osienski, is going to attempt an override. His only statement has been that Carney “has chosen to ignore the will of residents” — which is a fact, as University of Delaware polls have shown that 61% of state residents support legalizing cannabis. So all eyes will be on the Blue Hen State when the legislature reconvenes to see if it joins its neighbors in becoming the 20th state to pas legalization — or whether there is going to be more traffic than ever across the Delaware Memorial Bridge into New Jersey.