Do You Dare Smoke Weed in Delaware?

By Richard Farrell 01/10/2014

Perhaps not just yet, although there is a smidgeon of hope for those searching for a weed dispensary with a wide range of weed strains. That is because the authorities have shifted just a tad to pressure from the Marijuana Policy Project, although opponents point out that this is far less than they ought to have done.

Authorities in Dover have proposed a single ‘compassion center’ to serve almost a million people, following the Governor’s decision to lift his embargo on marijuana dispensaries provisionally. However, this pilot project may only grow 150 plants at a time, and stock no more than 1,500 ounces of the healing weed.

At the time of the pronouncement, Governor Jack Markell may have been mindful of Federal concerns regarding large-scale cultivation. Since then, the Justice Department has cautioned prosecutors to take a broader view. It seems that Markell’s thoughts flow as slowly as the mighty Delaware itself, before it enters the ocean at Capes Henlopen and May.

Dedicated volunteers at the Marijuana Policy Project headquarters are not taking this matter lying down.  They have drafted their response, and forwarded it to the Division of Public Health in Dover. In it, they argue cogently against the State’s shortsighted decision, and make a strong case for sufficient marijuana dispensaries to meet the proven justified demand.

Despite having enacted a law to regulate medical marijuana - currently effectively suspended by a single pen stroke of an elected official – Delaware has among the strictest marijuana laws anywhere in the United States, and has the twelfth highest arrest rate. Even a single joint lands you with a $1,150 fine and six months in jail to boot. This does not sit well in a community whose motto is ‘liberty and independence’ for all.

There is evidence that these unjust laws are being unfairly applied. The disproportionate arrest rate suggests law enforcement is on a vendetta. Furthermore, African-Americans are three times more likely to be targeted than their white counterparts are. Thankfully, the mood of the people is changing. There is a greater understanding of the role of a marijuana dispensary within the broader health-care context.

The Marijuana Policy Project’s submission expresses grave concerns that the inadequate legal recourse offered will drive genuine sufferers to desperate lengths, to secure the palliative care that they deserve so richly. It would be a tragedy if a chronic pain sufferer goes to prison for six months (or their well-intended partner) for a trivial matter that goes without mentioning in many other American states.

The writing is clearly on the wall. Delaware is going contraflow to national opinion, and hell-bent on depriving its citizens of affordable pain treatment through crass administrative manipulation. The Governor is not prepared to allow a test center to monitor its effectiveness where it permits it. It is time for a far-reaching, broad-based weed review to put the matter finally to bed.



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