Delaware governor proceeds with medical marijuana effort

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August 30, 2013

By Jennifer Springer


DOVER, Delaware: Gov. Jack Markell has decided to move forward with a medical marijuana program in Delaware after halting plans in February 2012 amid fears that state officials could be subject to federal prosecution.[1][2] Federal officials indicated that people involved in cultivating and distributing marijuana could face civil fines or prosecution.[2]

In a letter to lawmakers on August 15, 2013, Markell proposed a scaled-down pilot program involving one state-licensed "compassion center" that would grow and distribute marijuana to eligible medical patients. A law signed by Markell in 2011 called for three such centers.[1]

Citing changes made to medical marijuana programs in Rhode Island and New Jersey, Markell said he believes a single, tightly secured compassion center could allay federal concerns about multiple, large-scale centers.[1] Markell proposed that the Delaware compassion center be limited to growing no more 150 plants and an on-site inventory of no more than 1,500 ounces of marijuana.[2]

He also said regulations that the state Department of Health and Social Services will propose would require around-the-clock security monitoring at the center and measures to ensure that it dispenses marijuana only to eligible patients and caregivers.[2]

The proposed regulations also will require the center to report missing marijuana within 24 hours and to disclose the source of any funds over $5,000.[2]

In a letter to state representative Helene Keeley and state senator Margaret Rose Henry, who were the chief sponsors of the bill, Markell said his office has spent the past few months reviewing policies adopted by other states in response to conflicting signals from the federal government.[2] ‘‘The sensible and humane aim of state policy in Delaware remains to ensure that medical marijuana is accessible via a safe, well-regulated channel of distribution to patients with demonstrated medical need,’’ he wrote.[2]

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