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Delaware Governor John Carney announced on Tuesday that he is vetoing legislation that would have legalized recreational marijuana in the first state, saying it was not in the state’s best interests. .
The Democratic governor, who previously expressed skepticism about the benefits of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, vetoed legislation that would have removed all penalties of up to one ounce for possession of marijuana by a adult.
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Carney said he recognizes the “positive effect” the drug can have on the health of some people with medical conditions. He also said he supports decriminalization “because I agree that individuals should not be imprisoned solely for the possession and private use of a small amount of marijuana – and today, thanks to the law of decriminalization of Delaware, they are not”.
However, he said he does not believe “the promotion or expansion of ‘recreational marijuana use’ is in the best interest of the State of Delaware, especially our youth.
“Questions about the long-term health and economic impacts of recreational marijuana use, as well as serious law enforcement issues, remain unresolved,” he said.
The veto puts the Democratic governor at odds with his fellow party members in the legislature, who passed the bill and sent it to his office. Another bill, which would establish a state-run industry in the state, failed to clear the House, despite winning a majority in the House – it requires a 3/5 majority because it would create a new tax.
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Rep. Ed Osienski, who sponsored both bills, said in a report he was “deeply disappointed” by Carney’s veto, and that he would “consider the options available and decide on next steps later”. He claimed that until a market is established in Delaware, “people will continue to illegally obtain marijuana here through the illicit market or send tax revenue across the Delaware Memorial Bridge to New Jersey”.
Democratic lawmakers could seek to override the veto, but it’s unclear whether they will seek to do so. It would also require a majority of 3/5ths.
Carney’s vote is out of step with the mood of the Democratic Party nationwide, which has embraced the marijuana legalization effort. Neighboring New Jersey recently began selling recreational marijuana after Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed the legislation last year.
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Currently, recreational marijuana use is legal in 18 states and the District of Columbia.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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