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Delaware medical marijuana program expansion passes House

The Delaware House of Representatives advanced a bill that its sponsor claims will result in “improved access to medical marijuana.”

President Joe Biden’s home state legalized adult-use marijuana last year, but state lawmakers such as Democratic Rep. Ed Osienski have identified what they claim are flaws in Delaware’s MMJ law.

Delaware’s MMJ program launched in 2015 but remains relatively small.

There are just over 29,000 qualified patients in the Delaware registry out of a state population of 1 million, according to state data.

Sales were projected to exceed $52.5 million, according to the 2023 MJBiz Factbook.

Osienski’s House Bill 285 would remove what the lawmaker calls “outdated restrictions” that require a prospective MMJ patient to suffer from a “debilitating medical condition.”

Instead, health care providers would be allowed to determine whether the individual has a “diagnosed medical condition that would benefit therapeutically or palliatively” from cannabis use, according to a news release.

The bill would also allow patients 65 and older to “self-certify” for MMJ registry identification cards.

Expiration dates would also become flexible, with patients with terminal diagnoses granted cards with no expiration dates, and other patients able to obtain cards that expire in one, two, or three years.

HB 285 passed the state Legislature’s lower chamber Jan. 25 and now heads to the Senate.

The bill must now be heard in committee in the Senate before it can advance further.

No hearing date is currently scheduled.

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