Legalize marijuana in Delaware? Doing so could bring plenty of green, state report finds

Sarah Gamard Via Delaware News Journal

Delaware could bring in $43 million a year in revenue if it legalizes and taxes marijuana, according to a report Monday from the state auditor.

The report estimated 13% of adults in the state would consume marijuana based on data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and assumed a 20% tax on the plant to get to the $43 million figure.

"That money could be used to plug budget holes in the short term and would continue to provide revenue for all kinds of important initiatives in the long term," Auditor Kathy McGuiness, who supports legalization, said in a statement.

The report also concluded that legalization would create more than 1,000 new jobs over the course of five years, creating a $215 million industry in Delaware.

It comes as lawmakers have just begun the 2021 legislative session, where a bill to legalize marijuana is sure to come up.

While the legal weed fight in Delaware has been perennially unsuccessful over the past several years, advocates think more pressure is on Delaware to pass it than ever before.

That's in part because New Jersey voters overwhelmingly decided to legalize it in their state through a November election ballot initiative, ensuring that First State residents will only have to drive over the bridge to funnel tax money into the

Garden State's coffers and then consume it illegally at home.

Delaware also voted in several new, pro-weed lawmakers who could be enough to tip the scales toward passing a bill once it's filed.

But Gov. John Carney, a moderate, has traditionally opposed legalizing the plant despite public opinion polling over the last several years showing that the majority of his constituents support it.

Supporters of legal weed in Delaware have pointed to the proposal as an easy opportunity to bring in extra revenue to the state and create jobs as the state suffers from the pandemic-era recession.

That includes the auditor herself, who said the state needs to legalize weed to avoid being at a competitive disadvantage as neighboring states like New York and Pennsylvania are considering following the path of New Jersey.

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