Senator Bryant Richardson update on Marijuana

Posted on 09-07-2023

Nominations include members of Marijuana Appeals Commission

September 7, 2023

The Senate will convene for a Special Session called by Governor John Carney on Friday, Sept. 8, at 11 a.m. 

The Senate will consider six nominations and one renomination, pending release from Executive Committee.

The nominees are:

  • Kathleen M. Miller for appointment to a 12-year term as a judge of Superior Court in New Castle County.
  • Michael Houghton and the Honorable William L. Chapman Jr. to serve on the newly formed Marijuana Appeals Commission.
  • Melissa Harrington, Ph.D., to serve on the state Public Integrity Commission. 
  • The Honorable Gregory A. Lane to serve on the Enhanced 911 Emergency Reporting System Service Board.
  • Wilma Mishoe, Ed.D. to serve on the Industrial Accident Board.
  • The Honorable James J. Maxwell to serve another term as a commissioner of Family Court.

The governor’s nominees are expected to be approved during Friday’s Special. During my time in the Senate, most nominees were approved by unanimous vote.

I do have to express my disappointment to see the formation of the Marijuana Appeals Commission. Appointments to this commission mean that our state is getting closer to implementing the sale of ‘recreational’ marijuana.

House Bill 2, which passed this year, authorized the formation of this commission and the Delaware Marijuana Control Act Oversight Committee.

I remain totally against the legalization of ‘recreational’ marijuana, especially since more information about the risks associated with marijuana use is documented.

Interestingly, there is a provision in House Bill 2, the Delaware Marijuana Control Act, that addresses concerns about the risks. One in particular states this warning must be placed on all packaging:

“… a warning label explaining evidence-based harms from consuming marijuana, including the impact on developing brains.”

Regulations also require that products containing marijuana use a symbol and a standard measurement to be used on all products so they are easily identified as containing marijuana and consumers can identify the amount of marijuana in different products 

And they must be in opaque, child-resistant packaging.

The bill’s synopsis says the Oversight Committee will review the effectiveness of the Delaware Marijuana Control Act in regard to the safe operation of facilities licensed under this Act, the impact of this Act on public safety, and the impact of this Act on public health.

The Commissioner must submit an annual report to the Governor and the members of the General Assembly setting forth all matters of interest and all statistics concerning marijuana regulation and control in the State.

However, the emphasis of this Act is not on public safety, but on the number of the number of licenses issued and the amount of marijuana and marijuana products sold within the State and the outcomes of the issuance of social equity licenses.

The dangers associated with legalization of recreational marijuana were ignored by those who voted for the bills. But the dangers are real. Here are a few of them:

Impact on the workplace

According to a study reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, employees who tested positive for marijuana had 55% more industrial accidents, 85% more injuries and 75% greater absenteeism compared to those who tested negative. 

Mental illness

The THC in marijuana causes the ‘high’ and leads to addiction, mental illness, violence, crime, traffic deaths, and many health and social problems. 

After an exhaustive review, the National Academy of Medicine found in 2017 that cannabis use is likely to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses; the higher the use, the greater the risk.

But a mountain of peer-reviewed research in top medical journals shows that marijuana can cause or worsen severe mental illness, especially psychosis, the medical term for a break from reality. 

Teenagers who smoke marijuana regularly are about three times as likely to develop schizophrenia, the most devastating psychotic disorder.

Highway deaths

In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System reported that drugs were present in 43% of the fatally-injured drivers with a known test result. Over one-third (36.5 percent) of the identified drugs were marijuana in some form. 

A gateway drug

A January 2018 paper in the American Journal of Psychiatry showed that people who use were almost three times as likely to use opiates three years later, even after adjusting for other potential risks.

Those are just some of the risks. As I stated before, the legalization of marijuana in Delaware has to be among one of the worst decisions to come out of the General Assembly in decades.

Senator Richardson

411 Legislative Ave, Dover, DE 19901