Editor:

I recently read comments in the Delaware State News in regard to prioritizing cannabis legalization for the 2021 legislative session. It was stated that, due to restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Republican leadership did not want to focus on any bills which they considered “controversial.” Cannabis legalization was named as controversial. This is not the approach Delaware deserves.

First, cannabis legalization in Delaware, and nationally, is no longer considered controversial. In fact, it is entirely mainstream in the Mid-Atlantic region, with the addition of New Jersey, and soon Virginia, among the states allowing this freedom. In Delaware, two-thirds of citizens favor regulating this lucrative market. According to the 2019 Substance Abuse report https://www.samhsa.gov/data/data-we-collect/nsduh-national-survey-drug-use-and-health, 18 percent of Delaware citizens consume this product.

In addition to the majority favoring this law change, a detailed report by the Delaware State Auditor, Kathy McGuiness, calls for the immediate repeal of prohibition. In her report, she highlights the need for our legislators to act now to pass legislation before other Mid-Atlantic states. Virginia is only waiting on reconciliation of its House and Senate bills. Other states, such as Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island and West Virginia, have either filed or pre-filed their own versions.

This pandemic has changed the way we live our lives. However, virtual meetings are an important tool for many Delaware citizens who are home due to COVID-19-related job loss. Many people find virtual meetings fit their schedule. I see it as a benefit, not a detriment. Rep. Short said to “wait till later in the session” to consider cannabis legalization, not to eliminate it. Republicans, do this now.

Finally, I would like to reiterate that there is no reason for the Republican leadership to not prioritize cannabis legalization. It has gone completely mainstream, and the majority of the people of Delaware are in favor. It is an imperative that we act quickly to gain the advantage in the Mid-Atlantic region. The auditor’s report shows it’s no longer a controversial issue. It also details the benefits that we gain from added jobs and increased revenue. I ask you to prioritize cannabis legalization and abandon the idea that meeting virtually is a detriment.

The people of Delaware deserve to be the leaders in this industry. We must not wait as our Mid-Atlantic neighbors gain this freedom before us. Republicans need to increase support for this industry at a time when we desperately need it.

John Sybert, Vice President

SD20/RD38

Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network