Jar of marijuana

Richardson urges Carney to veto marijuana bills

Sam HautGovernment, Headlines

Jar of marijuana

Sen. Richardson urges Carney to oppose marijuana bills.

Sen. Bryant Richardson has asked Gov. John Carney to veto bills dealing with the legalization of marijuana.

“The dangers associated with legalization of recreational marijuana were ignored by those who voted for the bills,” the Laurel lawmaker said in an open letter he released Friday. “But the dangers are real.”

House Bill 1 and House Bill 2 would legalize recreational marijuana in Delaware and set up a department and tax structure for an industry that would legally grow and sell cannabis. The structure is similar to that used for taxing alcohol.

Carney’s office did not immediately respond to requests for a comment.

Richardson said that as of mid-August 2022, marijuana was associated with the deaths of six Delaware children and near deaths of 63 in cases of neglect. In 2021 there were 70 cases for the year, a 35 percent increase over the previous year.

Republicans have largely been opposed to the two bills, sponsored by Ed Osienski, D-Newark, as they have been for several years. 

But with a Democratic supermajority in the Senate and a Democratic majority in the House, the GOP lawmakers can do little to stop the pot train.

Sen. Eric Buckson, R-Dover, and Rep. Mike Ramone, R-Pike Creek, voted for legalization, and Rep. Jeffrey Spiegelman, R-Townsend/Hartley, voted for both bills.

A legalization bill did make it to Carney last year, but Carney swatted it down with a veto and the state House didn’t have enough votes to override it.

Osienski believes new factors will lead Carney to sign the bills, but Carney has given no public indication that he will.

However, his office requested changes to House Bill 2 in the form of an amendment that passed by voice vote. It made technical corrections and clarifications.

Richardson says he’s heard both that Carney will reject and that he will sign it and has no idea what the governor will do.

RELATED STORY: Marijuana bills fly through Senate; headed to Carney

Richardson’s letter cites a study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse showing that employees who tested positive for marijuana had 55% more industrial accidents, 85% more injuries, and 75% greater absenteeism compared to those who tested negative.

According to a review from the National Academy of Medicine cited in the letter, cannabis increases the risk of schizophrenia and other psychoses, Richardson says.

Richardson also points to the 2015 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, where 43% of fatally injured drivers had drugs in their system, with 36.5% of the drugs being marijuana in some form.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, of the 49,163 driver deaths on US roadways in 2015, 5,587 deaths, or 11.4%, were due to the driver being “under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medication.”

In 2020, of the 53,890 driver fatalities, 6,246, or 11.6%, were due to drivers driving under the influence, the letter said.

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