Delaware legalized its medical cannabis market in May 2011 with its first clinic opening in June 2015.
Since then, the state has seen attempts to improve the medical program with improved access. Adult-use has also been on the table, though those efforts have not come to fruition.
Attempts At Advancing The Medical Market
The state of one million citizens has seen increases to its modest patient roll in recent years.
Data from the state's 2019 annual report found that just over 12,000 registration cards were issued that year, representing an 82% increase from the year prior. Of those cards, over 7,800 were for new patients, compared to the year before where it was roughly 4,300.
Revenue from the state's program, which includes a $125 per year patient and caregiver application fee, generated $859,516 in 2019, up from 2018's roughly $524,000.
Data from BDS Analytics and Arcview Market Research predict that Delaware's medical market will reach $32 million by 2024, and $71 million if adult-use were to pass. That said, boosts in sales are not likely to come from the COVID-19 pandemic as other state markets experienced.
Operators in the First State reported sales largely remaining the same during the pandemic. The stagnant numbers were attributed to Delaware not including anxiety in its list of approved medical conditions.
A measure, Senate Bill 170, aims to address this concern. Gov. John Carney signed it into law on July 7.
The 2020 legislative session saw a slew of measures aimed at revising the program, addressing gun rights and home cultivation. Neither passed during the session.
Another bill passed in recent months allows cannabis-infused edibles to be sold at dispensaries. However, some, like Dr. Mary Lee, were concerned about the risk toward children.
In a Delaware Online opinion piece, Dr. Lee empathized with adult patients while explaining, "allowing the wholesale manufacturing and distribution of medicine disguised in the form of baked goods such as a cookie or brownie significantly increases the likelihood of an accidental ingestion and puts children at risk."
Adult Use Efforts Continue
Attempts at adult-use legislation are nothing new in the First State. More recently, Delaware lawmakers have made attempts at advancing the cause. Efforts in 2018 were defeated in Congress, with similar results occurring the following year.
The results came despite citizen support for legalization. A September 2018 University of Delaware survey found that 61% of over 728 likely voters supported legal marijuana.
Efforts did advance in 2019, when a legalization bill, HB 110, which featured a 15% sales tax, cleared the House Revenue and Finance Committee. The measure met steep opposition from the state police and uncertainty from the governor.
The latest update on HB 110 came in June 2019, when it was assigned to the House Appropriations Committee.
The governor's reported reluctance to adult-use was once again on display in early 2020, when Carney's State of the State address did not mention cannabis despite a bipartisan effort to improve medical access and pass adult-use laws.
Despite the state's reluctance to move forward on access or adult use, Delaware is reforming its approach towards cannabis. A notable example includes Attorney General Kathy Jennings announcing in February 2019 that her office would not prosecute any possession charge under 175 grams, or roughly six ounces.
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