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Sunday, March 21, 2021

Resolution Regarding HB 150: Cannabis Legalization in Delaware

What follows is the text of a resolution passed by the LPD State Board.  A hearing is scheduled before the House Health & Human Development Committee on 3/24 @ 11a.  Barring technical difficulties, the Zoom meeting for this hearing will be broadcast on the State Discord Server.


The Libertarian Party has supported an end to the War on Drugs and the legalization of cannabis and other prohibited substances since its inception in 1971. We have also opposed intrusive government regulation, taxation, and licensing. This puts us in an awkward position regarding HB150, the latest effort by the Delaware General Assembly to legalize cannabis. This legislation repeals all penalties for the possession and use of one ounce or less of cannabis by adults over the age of 21, and establishes a legal retail market for its cultivation and sale. However it keeps in place penalties for possession of more than one ounce and the retail market established is layered with licensing, taxes, and regulation that serve to fill the bill itself out to 36 pages for what should be the extremely simple act of deleting the prohibitions and penalties that are currently imposed on peaceful and responsible adults for the cultivation, transfer, possession, and use of a plant.

Nevertheless the Libertarian Party of Delaware is not in the habit of making perfect the enemy of good. We will continue to advocate for the reduction of taxes, regulations, and licensing in all areas of Delaware life, but in the meantime will applaud the positive step represented by the end of a prohibition that was misguided from the start. Cannabis prohibition began with Reefer Madness and an overtly racist subtext against minority communities and escalated as a proxy for squashing dissent against the dominant culture. It has been used as a pretense to expand police surveillance and arrest powers, to protect petroleum based industries from competition with cheap and renewable hemp products, and to serve as a gateway drug into the criminal justice system for countless young people who, once burdened with a criminal record for cannabis possession, are unable to access employment, housing, education, and financial assistance that dooms them to a life of unfulfilled potential at best, or at worst trapped in the criminal underworld until their premature death.

Like the prohibitions against other substances, prohibiting cannabis turns voluntary and peaceful transactions between consenting individuals into a criminal enterprise of gangs, violence, and abuse. Without the peaceful recourse of a legal market, tainted products and broken contracts are redressed with guns and mayhem. By providing an avenue for law abiding entrepreneurs to conduct business under the governance of public courts of law, the transaction costs measured in blood on the black market will price criminals and gangsters out of the business and provide free market accountability to protect buyers and sellers alike from the ravages of the War on Drugs.

This legislation is far from our ideal, but it will do more to address gun violence than the gun control proposals advanced by the General Assembly. Unlike those bills, this strikes at the root causes of gun violence related to poverty and the War on Drugs. Its inclusion of provisions to facilitate the expungement of outdated cannabis related offenses will also help the victims of the War on Drugs get back on their feet and reintegrate into society. It will stop the heinous practice of arresting and incarcerating peaceful people over a plant, and these are all good things preferable to the status quo.

The Libertarian Party of Delaware offers its full support to the passage of HB150 into law. We will be the proverbial mouse who is given a cookie, and will be back afterwards to ask for our glass of milk in the form of home cultivation, lower taxes, less regulation, and fewer licensing hurdles to provide more freedom and opportunity to Delaware residents.

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