New Frontier Data

Delaware Dawdles as More States Embrace Legalization

Headlines this week out of three of the four smallest U.S. states by area ran the gamut from opening adult-use sales (New Jersey), to legalizing cannabis (Rhode Island), and seeing a governor veto legislation to legalize possession (Delaware). Even North Carolina – which has been one of a half-dozen states still prohibiting marijuana even for medical purposes – is considering an adult-use legalization bill.

In the first month of New Jersey’s adult-use sales, consumers spent $24 million for recreational cannabis.

Rhode Island officials legalized cultivation and commerce, with regulated sales of recreational cannabis slated to begin on December 1 at the state’s three existing medical cannabis dispensaries. The bill also authorizes up to six regional recreational cannabis retailers.

The Delaware General Assembly could override Gov. John Carney’s veto by mustering three-fifths of the vote in both chambers (i.e., 12 votes in the Senate and 24 votes in the House) after 13 and 26 respectively voted to approve the measure, though reportedly no governor has had a veto overridden there since 1977.

In North Carolina (a state New Frontier Data estimated in our “2022 U.S. Cannabis Report” as having the second-largest illicit market), Senate Bill 765 would permit people ages 21 and older to possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis or equivalent products. Adult residents could grow up to two mature and two immature plants for personal use at home, and cannabis could be shared so long as no money trades hands. Restrictions would be devised for any marketing or advertising.

Why This Matters:The decision by Delaware not to move forward with legalization seems arbitrary given the availability of legal cannabis in the Northeast,” says Amanda Reiman, New Frontier Data’s Vice President of Public Policy Research. “States like New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont will certainly absorb the purchasing desires of those in Delaware and others.”