Delaware: State Auditor’s Report Recommends Legalizing Marijuana

Dover, DE: Delaware lawmakers should legalize the retail production and sale of cannabis in order to create jobs, increase revenue, and disrupt the illegal marketplace, according to recommendations issued this week by the state Auditor’s office.

The analysis, issued by the Office of the Auditor of Accounts, estimates that legalizing the commercial cannabis market in Delaware would yield some $43 million in new annual revenue and will create 1,400 new jobs within five years.

“Legalization … would allow Delaware to establish a policy framework to suppress the black market, curb usage through regulation for minors and collect revenue on a market demand that seems only to be increasing,” the report concludes. “It would also provide a new revenue stream and new potential for economic growth. Additionally, it would eliminate arrests and keep people out of prison. Each year that we fail to capitalize on this opportunity means more money could flow to neighboring states instead of being invested here. It is time Delaware pursue legalizing marijuana.”

State Auditor Kathy McGuiness similarly acknowledged: “The State of Delaware is missing out on millions in tax revenue by not taxing and regulating marijuana – money that could be used to plug budget holes in the immediate term and continue to provide revenue in future years. … With nearby states like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, and Virginia on the cusp of legalization and implementation, Delaware should apply the same consideration. Inaction doesn’t reward us with curbed usage, but will prevent us from realizing economic benefits and the $43 million that could be available if Delaware were to devise a responsible regulatory framework. It’s time to legalize it.”

In 2018, legislation that sought to legalize the adult-use market fell just four votes shy of passage on floor of the Delaware House of Representatives. Under current law, minor possession offenses are subject to civil fines, while physician-authorized access to cannabis is permitted to qualified patients. Statewide polling finds that 61 percent of Delawareans endorse legalizing marijuana for adults.

Commenting on the state Auditor’s report, NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “Legalizing and regulating the adult-use of marijuana in Delaware will disrupt the illicit marijuana market, end low-level marijuana arrests, and create jobs and new revenue.  This has been the experience in other jurisdictions that have enacted legalization — none of which have ever repealed or even seriously considered rolling back their policies. That is because these legalization laws are operating largely as voters and politicians intended, and in a way that the public finds preferable to the failed policies associated with criminal prohibition.”

For more information, contact Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator.