With most state legislatures now in session, the past week saw a glut of cannabis and drug reform bills get introduced and even make advancements to the next chamber. Here are some of the major bills in Florida and Delaware.
In Florida this week, at least three new proposals to legalize the adult use of cannabis were introduced by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
H.B. 467, sponsored by Rep. Yvonne Hinson, D-Gainesville, would vest regulatory oversight with a new Division of Cannabis Management under the state's Department Agriculture and Consumer Services. The bill would give localities power to approve or disallow licensed businesses from operating.
H.B. 549 and H.B. 551, sponsored by Rep. Anika Tene Omphroy, D-Fort Lauderdale, would regulate and tax recreational cannabis, respectively. The former would rename the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, which is under the state's Department of Business and Professional Regulation, and give it authority over the new recreational marijuana market.
The latter would establish a tax schedule based on THC potency. Cannabis flower with 35% or less THC content would be taxed at 10%, more psychoactive flower would be taxed at 25%, and cannabis-infused products would be taxed at 20%. The bill also taxes cultivators at 7% of their gross receipts.
Companion Senate bills, S.B. 1884 and S.B. 1886, sponsored by Sen. Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach, were also introduced this week and have the same proposals as Omphroy's House bills.
S.B. 776 and H.B. 1461, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-Seminole, and Rep. Carlos G. Smith, D-Alfaya, respectively, would amend the Sunshine State's existing medical marijuana statute to allow nonpatients 21 and older to buy cannabis products from medical dispensaries, while also tightening up regulations on those same dispensaries.
The bills would cap personal possession at 2,000 mg of THC, or four ounces of flower. And while landlords are allowed to maintain policies preventing adults from vaping or smoking, they "may not prevent his or her tenants from possessing or using marijuana by other means," the bill said.
The bill also includes components requiring sentencing review for those serving time for possessing fewer than four ounces of cannabis and allow people to petition the courts for the expungement of marijuana-related convictions. The bills also empower local municipalities to levy their own taxes on marijuana dispensaries.
These bills, most of which were pre-filed last year, join multiple other bills already pending in Florida to legalize adult-use marijuana sales.
Meanwhile, Delaware lawmakers on Wednesday introduced a new bill to tax and regulate the sale of recreational marijuana. H.B. 305, or the Delaware Marijuana Control Act, would allow adults over 21 to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, but it would not allow home cultivation.
The bill would impose a 15% tax on cannabis sales. Seven percent of the proceeds would be directed toward a Justice Reinvestment Fund, which would be given to the state's Department of Justice to fund grants and administer programs geared toward restorative justice, reducing the prison population and assisting with the expungement of criminal records, among other efforts.
Primary oversight of the new adult-use market would be vested in a new marijuana commissioner, who would establish regulations. An oversight committee would also be created to advise on policy and review the efficacy of the act's implementation.
The bill would create a social equity license and micro-business license tier, in addition to a standard "open" license. An open license would have a standard biennial fee of $10,000, compared to $1,000 for social equity licensees and $3,000 for micro-business licensees. License applicants would also have to attest to having a labor agreement or promise to put one in place.
Social equity applicants are defined in the bill as people who have lived in a disproportionately impacted area for five of the last 10 years, or anyone who has had a marijuana-related offense other than selling to a minor. The bill also directs the commissioner to create programs for financial and technical assistance for social equity applicants.