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Delaware Senate Democrats

Senate sends bill reforming Delaware’s Medical Marijuana Program to Governor John Carney

March 28, 2024

DOVER – A year after legalizing adult recreational marijuana and creating a new legal cannabis industry, the Delaware General Assembly on Thursday sent legislation to Governor John Carney that would expand access to the First State’s medical marijuana program.

Introduced by Rep. Ed OsienskiSen. Kyra Hoffner and Sen. Trey Paradee in December, House Bill 285 would empower healthcare providers to determine whether medical marijuana is beneficial to their patient, expand access to the program for Delaware seniors, and cut through regulatory red tape to streamline the issuance of medical marijuana registry identification cards.

HB 285 passed the Senate after receiving bipartisan support in the House of Representatives in January.

“With the full legalization of adult-use recreational marijuana last year, my colleagues and I agreed that our medical marijuana law needed to be updated to help the people who rely on those products get the therapy they need,” Sen. Hoffner said.

“These changes will allow healthcare providers to make sound decisions about which treatments best fit their patients, and make those treatments more readily accessible to people who need them the most,” she said. “I want to thank my colleagues in the General Assembly for continuing to support a responsible and reasoned approach to both recreational and medical marijuana in the First State.”

If signed by Governor Carney, HB 285 would enact five major changes to Delaware’s 13-year-old medical marijuana program.

First, the legislation would eliminate an existing requirement that patients must suffer from one of more than a dozen specific debilitating medical conditions to qualify for participation in Delaware’s medical marijuana program. Instead, HB 285 would allow healthcare providers to decide whether a patient would benefit from the use of medical marijuana.

The bill also would eliminate the CBD-rich and compassionate use programs currently available to treat conditions outside of the specific diseases eligible for medical marijuana therapies, both of which would be rendered unnecessary by HB 285.

Under the bill, Delawareans ages 65 and older could self-certify their qualifications for a registry identification card, eliminating the need for seniors to schedule a doctor’s appointment to obtain written certification from a healthcare provider.

The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services also would be authorized to issue registry identification cards good for up to 3 years, and grant permanent registry cards to qualifying patients diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Finally, HB 285 would permit someone with a registry identification card or equivalent certification from another state or territory to access the medical marijuana program in Delaware.

“Following our successful passage of the Delaware Marijuana Control Act last year, we have actively engaged with and taken feedback from medical marijuana patients. said Rep. Ed Osienski, the prime sponsor of HB 285. “Drawing from their insights, we identified numerous ways to improve our medical marijuana program. HB 285 recognizes the need to remove outdated restrictions and breaks down the barriers that hinder patients who could truly benefit from improved access to medical marijuana.”

The Delaware Senate’s passage of House Bill 285 on Thursday came on the same day that the House passed House Bill 355, a measure that would provide state-level legal protections to banks, credit unions, armored car services and other businesses that provide financial or accounting services to Delaware’s burgeoning legal marijuana industry.

The Senate is expected to consider House Bill 355 later this year.