It was over two years ago that Delaware became of the growing number of states that allow medical marijuana. Senator Margaret Rose Henry’s SB 17 passed the Senate 18-3 (and then inexplicably 17-4 the second time after the House amended it) and the House 27-14, and Governor Markell signed the bill a few days later, which is his custom if he really likes a bill. But then came the Federal roadblock, as Eric Holder’s Justice Department threatened state officials with prosecution.
Since I preemptively attacked the Governor this morning for a rumored but not yet taken action, it seems only fair to applaud the Governor to finally sticking up his middle finger to Attorney General Holder and President Obama for their illogical, unprogressive and hypocritical opposition to medical marijuana. The breaking news:
After a months-long delay, Gov. Jack Markell is moving forward with implementation of Delaware’s medical marijuana program despite threats from the U.S. Department of Justice that state officials could be subject to prosecution.
The move comes after other states, including New Jersey and Rhode Island, have issued licenses for marijuana distribution centers.
Markell told lawmakers in a letter today that the state will issue a request for proposal to open a marijuana cultivation and distribution center, or “compassion center,” in Delaware next year. The law that Markell signed in 2011 legalizing medical marijuana in Delaware called for compassion centers in each county.
“The sensible and humane aim of state policy in Delaware remains to ensure that medical marijuana is accessible via a safe, well-regulated channel of distribution to patients with demonstrated medical need,” Markell said in the letter, which was addressed to Sen. Margaret Rose Henry and Rep. Helene Keeley, both Wilmington Democrats.
The change will allow medical marijuana patients in Delaware, some already registered by the state to use the drug without having a legal place to obtain it, to buy the drug in a state-regulated center.
Governor Markell is moving forward after having addressed the Justice Department’s alleged concerns about security, but, personally, I think Markell is sensing a softening in Holder’s stance after Holder’s recent speech and policy changes regarding mandatory minimums in drug sentences. Regardless, kudos to the Governor for taking this step.