Delaware’s medical marijuana providers say legalizing recreational use would “decimate” their businesses, but some patients say it’s just greed.
House Bill 150, the Delaware Marijuana Control Act, proposes to allow anyone over the age of 21 to possess and consume under an ounce of marijuana for personal use.
It was voted out of the House Health & Human Development Committee and onto the House floor March 24, despite some dispensaries’ opposition.
“I fear this introduction of this legislation will undercut the very program that these patients rely on,” said Columbia Care Retail Director Sharice Ward. “How will the state guarantee products for our cancer and pediatric patients once the recreational market is established?”
But medical marijuana patients like Lillyanne Ternahan of Frankford say Columbia Care isn’t able to guarantee products themselves. They run out of various strains and available quantities regularly, she said.
“These dispensaries, especially Columbia Care, being a multi-million-dollar corporation, have failed to provide patients with adequate access to medicinal cannabis, and can’t even keep up with the current demand. Prices are outrageous with no options to buy in bulk, and there is very little selection available,” she said. “Recreational cannabis will make the market more competitive.”
Ternahan and a handful of others protested outside Columbia Care in Rehoboth Beach April 24, with signs that said, “Pot is for people, not big business,” and “End corporate greed, legalize weed.”
They’ll protest again Friday, April 30, from 4-6 p.m. at Columbia Care’s Smyrna location.
Columbia Care, which has dispensaries in 12 states and Washington D.C., did not immediately return requests for comment.
Regardless of their intentions in opposing House Bill 150, Delaware’s medical marijuana industry will be significantly impacted by its passage.
There are just six medical marijuana providers in Delaware right now. The bill would allow an additional 30 retail, 30 manufacturing and 60 cultivating licenses.
“Have their been market studies that suggest this is an appropriate amount?” Ward asked.
“The bill would visit violence on the economic well-being of those who have chosen to make a material stake in this state,” said David White, chief legal officer of Fresh Delaware. “Increasing cultivation sites even from six to ten, let alone 60, would render our carefully considered long-term vision a non-recoupable loss and would cause us to lay off our unionized workers.”
Jennifer Stark runs Ezy Venture. At the House meeting, she tossed out an idea that would protect her and other Delaware medical marijuana providers: giving them the first recreational marijuana provider licenses.
“Look at CVS and Walgreens. They have a portion of their stores for over-the-counter goods and then a pharmacy in the back,” she said.
Edward Miller is chief medical officer of Compassionate Care Research Institute, which has medical oversight of Fresh Delaware.
“By not allowing us medical cannabis compassion centers to automatically participate in adult-use sales, we would not be able to financially survive,” he said.
Aaron Epstein, chief operating officer of CannTech Delaware, also asked that medical marijuana providers be grandfathered into the bill to allow them to sell recreational-use marijuana.”We’re proud to support legalization but ask that you don’t decimate the medical cannabis industry in the process,” he said.