PHILADELPHIA -- Is Delaware close to legalizing marijuana for recreational use?
Well, that depends on whom you ask.
Advocates are optimistic. Lawmakers worry there is just not enough legislative support.
The First State was among the first on the East Coast to weigh legalization for adult use. But last year, legalization came up short four "ayes."
The latest version of the bill, HB 110, advanced from the House Revenue and Finance Committee last week to the House Appropriations Committee. There is optimism that the new version of the bill might win over some holdouts.
"Our goal is not the tax revenue, but eliminating the black market," said State Rep. Ed Osienski, D-Newark. "Then you'd have a safe, new, regulated industry, with good-paying jobs and personal income taxes rolling in."
But with only three weeks left in the current legislative session -- and a state budget that still needs to be hashed out -- getting it to the General Assembly for a full vote is looking unlikely before the end of the year.
"I'm still short on votes," Osienski said. "I need 25 votes in the House to move it to the Senate. Right now I don't have them."
Persuading up to four potential holdouts may take the entire summer, Osienski said, but his counterpart in the Senate appeared less concerned.
"I think we're real close. Legalization is inevitable. That's the thing," said State Sen. Trey Charles Paradee, D-Dover, one of the bill's cosponsors. "It's going to happen and it's just a matter of when. However, if we're not confident that we have the votes, we'll just take it back up in January."