Gov. Jack Markell signed legislation Friday legalizing marijuana growing, distribution and use in Delaware for limited medical purposes.
The General Assembly sent Markell the medical-marijuana legislation on Wednesday.
The governor signed the bill Friday morning without the usual ceremony in order to initiate a one-year regulatory and licensing process for three not-for-profit dispensaries that will be authorized to sell marijuana to qualified patients, according to his office.
Under Senate Bill 17, physicians could recommend marijuana for patients suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s disease and post-traumatic stress disorder.
People with other chronic disease or debilitating medical conditions could qualify if other medicines or surgical procedures have failed to relieve their pain or caused seizures, severe or persistent muscle spasms and intractable nausea.
Physicians and patients would have to have a “bona fide physician-patient relationship” and other medical treatments would have to be exhausted before marijuana is recommended, according to the bill and its legislative sponsors.
Qualified patients who get a doctor’s recommendation and a state-issued identification card will be able to purchase up to six ounces of marijuana at one of the dispensaries.
Marijuana growing and purchases will be limited to the dispensaries. Patients will not be allowed to grow their own cannabis.
“We made clear that this would need to be very limited in scope and actively targeted to only Delawareans with profound and chronic illness like cancer and ALS. It is. This bill needed to be about giving targeted help to the most sick in a way that made medical sense, and it is,” Markell said in a written statement.
By Chad Livengood