DOVER — After a three-hour caucus, the Delaware House of Representatives failed to overturn Gov. John Carney’s veto on legalizing the personal use of marijuana.
The final vote on HB 371, held Tuesday night, was 20-20, with House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear) abstaining. As promised, house tenant Pete Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach) voted against overriding the veto.
The last time the General Assembly overruled a governor’s veto was in 1977, according to the News Journal.
Rep. Ed Osienski (D-Newark), who led the effort to legalize personal use of marjiuana for less than 1 ounce, thanked his colleagues for their efforts on the bill despite last hour failure. The House caucused for about three hours before reconvening for a vote.
“Unfortunately, the result is not what I wanted, but I want to say that I am proud to fight for something that such a large majority of Delawares want. That’s how I feel like they [the voters] sent me to do. I appreciate all the work I’ve done with my colleagues, but most of all, I feel good working for Delaware,” Osienski said.
Osienski spearheaded the third attempt to legalize small amounts of marijuana, and in March an earlier version of the bill passed the House for the first time. However, that bill – which would legalize marijuana and create a regulatory and recreational sales system – fell through after representatives huddled for hours and then introduced surprise amendments.
He then divided the effort into two bills: HB 371 and HB 372, which would create the licensing and tax system for recreational sales. HB 371 passed with 26-14. HB 372 failed by a narrow margin and was heavily dependent on passage of its companion bill.
HB 372 is no longer likely to gain support to pass this year, which means recreational sales will still be at least a year away, even if neighboring states begin such sales.