Delaware: The Next Colorado?

Filed in National by on November 3, 2015

Yes, Delaware is highlighted on the map of states where it is possible marijuana could be legal relatively soon. The LA Times reports says that now that we have achieved marriage equality, marijuana legalization is the next big progressive reform movement:

The latest sign was the full-throated call last week by Sen. Bernie Sanders to end federal prohibition. With that one move, the candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination plunged into uncharted territory — and, arguably, so did the presidential race. Never before has a contender with so much to lose so unequivocally suggested that smoking a joint should be viewed the same as drinking a beer, at least in the eyes of the law.

….Hillary Rodham Clinton has told small audiences in the pot havens of Oregon and Colorado that marijuana businesses in states where it is legal need relief from federal restrictions that can make it impossible for them to operate.

Hillary Clinton has not said no to legalization, but she did not say yes either. She said in the first debate among the Democrats that we need more time to see how it is working in Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon. It is typical Hillary caution, but this is the type of issue where it is good that Bernie Sanders is in the race so that the issue is brought up and Hillary is moved further left. But I digress.

The point is we are at a tipping point in this reform movement, just as the Hate Amendment in California was the tipping point in the marriage equality movement. The latest Gallup poll shows that 58 percent of American favor pot legalization. Kevin Drum predicts that marijuana will be generally legal by 2019. And 24/Wall Street is now out with an article that predicts the next 11 states that will legalize marijuana. Where does Delaware rank among the most 11 most likely states? LOL, 11th:

11. Delaware
> Max. fine for small amount: $575
> Marijuana related arrests in 2012: 2,912
> Marijuana arrests per 100,000: 318
> Minimum penalty classification : Misdemeanor

According to a 2014 survey conducted by the University of Delaware, 56% of respondents in the state agreed that “the use of marijuana should be made legal.” Governor Jack Markell signed in June 2015 a law officially making Delaware the 20th state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Though the law will not take effect until January, when it does, Delaware residents will face a maximum penalty of a $100 fine for possession of up to an ounce of the drug. Before the governor signed the law, marijuana users in Delaware faced up to three months of jail time, a $575 fine, and a misdemeanor on their record for the same offence.

There were 2,912 marijuana-related arrests in 2012 in Delaware, the 12th highest rate of all states per capita. In 2012, about eight out of 10 adolescents in the state did not perceive light marijuana use as dangerous, a fairly lax view.

Yeah, Massachusetts, Nevada, California, New York, Vermont, Minnesota, Connecticut, Maryland and Rhode Island all get to get legal before Delaware. But sadly, given the pains some took to say during the Decriminalization debate that they were not pushing for legalization, it is probably accurate prediction. Unless, like in history of passing civil unions in one session of the GA and marriage equality in another, we just chuck perceptions to the wind and not care about what we said. But if that pattern holds, where we pass legalization one session after passing decriminalization, we are probably still looking at 2017 at the earliest.

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  1. $184 million in tax revenue for Colorado in FY15, 50% above the initial estimate. It cracks me up that we (Delaware) keep dragging our feet on this given the budget woes in this state. If anything legalizing, taxing, and regulating would give the 1% Party another way to avoid adding higher tax brackets for a year or two. Which should mean landslide passage in the GA.

  2. Dorian Gray says:

    “Hillary Clinton has not said no to legalization, but she did not say yes either.”

    Classic

    Joking aside, yeah it’s only a matter of time now. Unfortunately the final push seems like it’s being driven by corporate interests. See this cool essay on Willie Nelson’s efforts to keep Big Pot at bay.

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/10/willie-nelson-crusade-stop-big-pot.html

    I have made no secret of the fact that I’m a stoner. Big stoner. Love cannabis long time… I would be happy to pay the appropriate amount of state tax, but I don’t want ConAgra or Monsanto or &c. making anything. I’ll continue to acquire mine through the current back channels rather than give the 1% a cut.

  3. Ben says:

    I just want to be able to grow my own. I don’t really care if Marlboro wants to sell packs of Greens at Walmart. I make my own beer and support local microbreweries in a market utterly dominated by one corporate giant. Pot can be the same way.

  4. bamboozer says:

    Still in shock the ever greedy politicians of Delaware have not legalized it, perhaps still playing to the holy rollers and prison industry. Suspect when the train has left the station they’ll jump on the bandwagon with both feet while exclaiming “show us the money!!!”.

  5. mouse says:

    Don’t criticize it!

  6. Dorian Gray says:

    Ben – That’s definitely the idea. My issue was that it seemed the Ohio proposal specifically would create a very strict and corporate structure for commercial growing operations. I’m worried that this could become a trend. Get the big money corporate interests behind an ostensibly progressive legislation. Craft that legislation so that only the corporate interests have access to the market.

    https://news.vice.com/article/ohios-legal-weed-proposal-could-create-the-worlds-first-pot-grower-oligarchy

    The entire thing sounds very Markellian… which is worrying.

  7. Dorian Gray says:

    Mouse – The Bush Doctor is my prophet.

    Winston Hubert McIntosh, OM 1944 – 1987 a.k.a. Peter Tosh (PBUH)

    🙂

  8. ben says:

    Of course it will become a trend. This is ‘Murica… AND delaware. Color me not surprised.
    Even if it is something vital to human life… like health care or housing… it will become dominated by rich and powerful corporate interests.
    It’s going to be a huge step that for-profit prisons will no longer be able to profit off of a harmless plant consumed by harmless people. I’ll be all for Support your Local Pot Farmer after it’s legal, one fight at a time.

  9. mouse says:

    Bingo!

  10. Geezer says:

    “perhaps still playing to the holy rollers and prison industry.”

    No, the police are against it, and for now they have the political muscle to carry the day.

  11. Dorian Gray says:

    I hear you, Ben. My issue is that if all these corporate interests get baked into the legislation in the first place it becomes even more difficult to fight them.

    It so strange. One of the things that was attractive about smoking herb was that it was totally separate from corporate interests and a fuck-you to the cops. I don’t want my off-the-grid extracurricular silent puff-protests sullied by RJ Reynolds and Phillip Morris!

  12. Steve Newton says:

    I want legalization to come to Delaware INCLUDING the release of non-violent drug offenders and the movement (both economical and ethical) towards treating drug abuse as a medical condition and not a crime.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Great idea.
    But, the politico’s can’t handle the money they get now!

  14. Anon says:

    This is just like table gaming. They’ll wait last minute to legalize until PA NJ or MD are about to. Get the revenue from surrounding states before they do it themselves.

  15. bamboozer says:

    “No, the police are against it, and for now they have the political muscle to carry the day.”

    They were against decriminalization and lost that one, at some point the police will lose on legalization as well. In Delaware the money will win out, it always does.

  16. mouse says:

    And interestingly, the DE budget deficit is very close to what Colorado brought in with the 420 tax

  17. mouse says:

    I wonder what motives people to vote against it? Maybe the same psychosis that makes they vote for hateful religious republicans

  18. ben says:

    The “it’s not good enough” caucus won (or rather surrendered) the day. Clearly, people in Ohio would rather continue a system where people’s lives are ruined forever over a small amount of plant material, than fight one fight at a time. This same thing happened in California years ago. It was going to be legalized, but the purists shot down their own cause because it wasn’t pure and organic enough.

  19. Dave says:

    “drug abuse as a medical condition ”

    Addiction is a medical condition. Drug abuse is not. You may consider it semantics, but many (most?) forms of abuse are perceived (and in reality) are criminal. I don’t advocate change to be politically correct. Rather it is in the interest of being more precise after which we are better able as a society in shaping policy to cope with addiction.

    Precisely speaking, people abuse (use them for purposes contrary to their intended use) because initially, they make poor decisions. Those poor decisions result in addiction. The addiction now governs their actions, which is to abuse drugs (and commit criminal acts to support their addiction).

    Decriminalization does nothing with regards to addiction and I don’t see much effort into 1) preventing addiction – which focuses on abstinence (how’s that working?) or 2) medically treating addiction in a manner that eliminates the addiction (except to replace the addictive substance with something like methadone).

    Speaking of which, participation in methadone programs for less than 90 days is of limited effectiveness, For methadone maintenance, 12 months is considered the minimum, and are or have been on it for many years. Methadone provides a slow and safe way to detox but how long does detoxing take? Years. So mostly we are treating addiction with methods that have limited efficacy in sustainability without relapse and in eliminating the need for methadone. Pretty poor outcomes in my view. I don’t know whether there can ever be a cure for addiction, but they say once an alcoholic always an alcoholic then why wouldn’t same be true of drug addiction?

    I can support the decriminalization of addiction as long as there are negative consequences for one’s actions either as a result of the addiction or a result of facilitating their addiction through criminal activities. To put it in perspective. Someone who is driving while under the influence (DUI) is committing a criminal act, because of their addiction. I wouldn’t put them in jail for being addicted, only for their criminal acts.

    The cost of addiction to individuals and society is horrendous but keeping drug abusers on the street without better means of treating addiction does little for the individual or society. I would rather expend effort on eliminating addiction, if it is even possible, than to do anything else.

  20. Dorian Gray says:

    Marijuana is less addictive than booze and cigarettes. In fact THC really is not addictive at all. Moreover, there is no real overdose amount. (There is but it’s nearly impossible for a human being to consume that amount in the period of time it would require to kill the person.)

    Users can develop a problem with pot of course the same why people can develop a problem eating (or not eating) or shopping. Prohibition really should end regardless of the problems of criminal justice and addiction health services. I think your conflating too many things here.

  21. Dave says:

    I was not equating “drug abuse” with marijuana. I don’t think Steve Newton was equating marijuana use as a medical condition. I’m thinking perhaps you were conflating too many things.

  22. Dorian Gray says:

    I’ll just chalk it up to you being completely off topic and confusing then. Perhaps just a nonsequitur – like yours doesn’t follow? Look at the topic of the thread and maybe reflect on why I made the comment I made.

    Prof Newton wrote one sentence that included the phrase ‘drug abuse’ and you gave us six fucking paragraphs on:

    Addiction versus Drug Abuse
    Methadone and detox
    DUI
    and your views on addiction

    The post was about legalising weed and Prof Newton’s comment was about focusing on drug abuse as a mental medical condition. Nobody said anything about actual crimes (like with a victim or potential victim) or addiction.

    You drew some vague line between drug abuse and addiction and then headed down a long and winding road. So call it whatever you wish. Poor writing, confusion, or whatever…

  23. Dave says:

    Which is exactly why I quoted SN (“drug abuse as a medical condition ”) in the very first line of my comment, so that those who where not interested in my 6 paragraphs on that side topic could skip it and so there would be no confusion on the part of the readership exactly what I was referring to.

    Can’t please everyone I suppose.

  24. Dorian Gray says:

    Fair enough. Just seemed like a significant digression. But I see what you’re saying.

  25. Tom Kline says:

    Taxes are at an all time high, gambling is a bust and Dupont is evaporating.

    Pot Tax or Sales Tax?

  26. Let me fix that for you Tom.
    “Some taxes are at an all time high.” And I think a Pot tax would also be a sales tax, no?

  27. JohnT says:

    The first mid-Atlantic state to legalize is going to make so much tax money its not funny. It’ll fade as other states legalize, but that initial rush will be amazing.

  28. mouse says:

    Well at least on Jan 1, 2016, MJ is decriminalized and people can’t be kidnapped and put in a cage by sadistic people for medicating with a naturally occurring plant