(The Center Square) – A bill containing marijuana possession legalization for residents of Delaware has been vetoed, Gov. John Carney said.

The second-term Democrat announced Tuesday he would not sign House Bill 371 because he felt promoting recreational use of the federally listed Schedule I drug and “promoting or expanding” its use is not in “the best interests of residents in the state."

In a letter to the House of Representatives detailing the veto, Carney said that he recognizes “the positive effect marijuana can have for people with certain health conditions” and that he would continue to support the state’s medical marijuana industry.

“I supported decriminalization of marijuana because I agree that individuals should not be imprisoned solely for the possession and private use of a small amount of marijuana – and today, thanks to Delaware’s decriminalization law, they are not,” Carney wrote in the letter.

Carney pointed to young people in terms of marijuana use and questioned long-term health and economic impacts of recreational use of the drug. Carney also said serious law enforcement concerns remain unresolved.

According to the Marijuana Policy Project, a Civiqs poll shows that 72% of voters in the state support legalization. A Gallup poll conducted in October 2021 revealed that 68% of Americans feel the drug should be legal, including 83% of Democrats and 71% of independents.

Olivia Naugle, who serves as senior policy analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project, called Carney’s veto a “true injustice.”

“This important legislation would dramatically reduce the number of police interactions, searches, and citations for cannabis possession in Delaware,” Naugle said in the release. “We know cannabis laws are unequally enforced, and it is Black Delawareans who are disproportionately stopped, searched, and penalized for cannabis, or for the supposed smell of cannabis. After condemning the traumatic search of the DSU women’s lacrosse team in Georgia, Gov. Carney has failed to stand for justice for the same types of intrusive searches at home in Delaware by vetoing HB371.”

The Legislature has 30 days to conduct an override vote on the governor's veto.

A second piece of marijuana legislation, The Delaware Marijuana Control Act, was featured in House Bill 372. The bill would have set a commissioner to oversee the program, set the market, tax rates, and rules for adult-use recreational marijuana. However, that bill fell just shy of the needed super majority to advance to the Senate.

Associate Editor

Brent Addleman is an Associate Editor and a veteran journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He has served as editor of newspapers in Pennsylvania and Texas, and has also worked at newspapers in Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Kentucky.