A law to legalize recreational marijuana and funding to assist community nonprofit groups dominated Rep. Charles Postles' latest monthly constituent coffee meeting.
In 2017, as part of a plan to close a state budget shortfall exceeding $360 million, lawmakers agreed to cut Grants-in-Aid funding by 20 percent. The grants provide assistance to nonprofit organizations working on behalf of the public, such as senior centers, youth clubs and volunteer fire departments.
In January, Postles sponsored a resolution asking for full restoration of the $8.64 million removed from the program. State revenues have surged by hundreds of millions of dollars over the course of the current fiscal year.
House Bill 110 also generated intense dialogue at the meeting. The measure seeks to make Delaware the ninth state to legalize recreational marijuana.
"I have tried to keep an open mind (on this proposal), but I do have some reservations," said Postles to those gathered at Etta's Catering in Milford.
Postles said he is concerned that making marijuana readily available could potentially lead to more impaired driving, a higher number of accidents in the workplace and a greater likelihood that teens would acquire and use it.
Speaking at the meeting, advocates for loosening cannabis restrictions cited problems with the state's medical marijuana law, including quality and availability. They also advocated for better counseling services so Delawareans accessing medical marijuana could learn how to most effectively use it to treat their conditions.
Delaware's 7-year-old medical marijuana law was initially delayed by uncertainty over whether the state would face action from the federal government, which considers marijuana an illegal substance. Even after this was resolved, the program has had a slow rollout. Dispensaries, called "compassion centers,” were to be established in all counties, but the facility that will serve Kent County has yet to begin operations.
Postles holds monthly coffee meetings at varying locations on the third Friday of each month to provide citizens with a way to meet and speak with their state representative.