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On HB305: Cannabis Legalization

Public Comments from the Chair on HB305 before the Delaware House Health & Human Development Committee:
Good Afternoon.  My name is Will McVay, and I'm the State Chair of the Libertarian Party of Delaware.

I first want to thank the Committee Members for their swift consideration of this revised bill.
Efforts have been made over the course of at least the last three sessions of the General Assembly including this one to pass legislation to legalize cannabis.  Every day this important legislation is delayed is another day that non violent individuals especially in disadvantaged communities continue to be persecuted for cannabis possession and use.  Prior legislation claiming to "decriminalize" cannabis has done nothing of the sort as arrests and illegal markets continue and proliferate.

The broader War on Drugs and in particular the prohibition of cannabis has been a failure from the start, and few issues constitute such a crucial nexus where so many societal problems can be resolved or at least improved by correcting one mistake.

The Libertarian Party of Delaware has supported an end to cannabis prohibition since our inception.  We believe that all people have the right to self ownership and bodily autonomy, and that any harm caused by cannabis use is limited to the individual freely choosing to use it.  For this reason alone cannabis should not be prohibited by law.  The financial cost of cannabis prohibition is a drain on taxpayer resources instead of a boon to economic growth in our state.  The impact on Delaware communities, particularly communities already struggling against historical challenges, of arrests, incarceration, and fines is more actively harmful than cannabis itself.  The impact on our constitutionally guaranteed civil rights, again disproportionately suffered by historically disadvantaged communities, whether it's the abuse of protections against unreasonable search and seizure or the confiscation of property without due process through civil asset forfeiture, cannot be dismissed.

Members of this committee have raise the issue of safety and the damaging effects of cannabis use.  It cannot be overemphasized that any harms caused by cannabis use are dwarfed by the damaging effects of cannabis prohibition.  Cannabis is being used anyway.  Any safety issues or damaging effects are endemic even under prohibition.  By ending the criminal and "civil" penalties for cannabis, the harms that exist can be addressed more effectively without stigma and the negative externalities associated not with cannabis itself, but with the illegal market for it, will be greatly curtailed.  Delaware Public Health is worried about the higher cost of medicinal licenses will divert investment to the casual use market, LOWER the fees for medicinal, don't raise them for anyone.

Please endorse this bill with your full support and please pass this legislation quickly.  Time is of the essence and the injustice is real and ongoing.

Thank you.