Patchell said that's a good idea.
"Who would you rather have control the largest cash crop in Delaware?" she said. "The criminal market, or licensed business owners under the state's Department of Homeland Security?"
Still, there are several potential stumbling blocks. Before the bill is sent on to the governor's desk, Paradee and Osienski need to muster a "super majority" of votes in each House. That's because any law creating a new tax or incurring a new expense to the state requires the backing of three-fifths support of the legislators.
"If it was a simple majority, it would be a slam dunk to get it through," Paradee said.
The odds of passage improved with the election of 12 new members in the House, Osienski said. But the bill faces strong headwinds from law enforcement, the state Medical Society, the Chamber of Commerce, the AAA and Gov. John Carney.
"Carney has said he is not a fan," Osienski said. Carney, however, has three choices: He can sign it, veto it, or let it become law without his signature. The governor's office did not respond to a request for comment.
Edibles would be allowed under the proposed bill. All cannabis products would be taxed at a rate of 15%. Home delivery is not under consideration.
The bill does not require new cannabis businesses to be owned by Delaware residents and it does not prevent big, multistate operators from buying up local producers and retailers. However, there is strong language about how the licensees will be chosen, Paradee said.
Lawmakers want employers who offer benefits, pensions, and 401(k)s. "We don't want minimum-wage jobs," Paradee said.
"The reality is marijuana is already here," Paradee said. "The question is, are we going to allow the cartels and criminals to control the market, or have the government do it and generate some revenue and guarantee the product is safe?
"I think we all know what would be the better choice."
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