As expected, Delaware Governor John Carney has vetoed a bill to legalise possession of up to one ounce of cannabis by adults for recreational use.
Earlier this month, the state’s House and Senate voted in favour of the measure, but the governor had previously indicated his opposition to legalisation and a spokeswoman said his position hadn’t changed.
Both houses and the governorship are in Democratic hands.
In vetoing the measure, Carney said: “I recognise the positive effect marijuana can have on people with certain health conditions, and for this reason, I continue to support the medical marijuana industry in Delaware.
“I have supported the decriminalisation of marijuana because I agree that individuals should not be imprisoned solely for the possession and private use of a small amount – and today, thanks to the decriminalisation law of Delaware, they are not.
“That said, I do not believe that promoting or expanding the use of recreational marijuana is in the best interest of the State of Delaware, particularly our youth. Questions about the impacts to long-term health and economics of recreational marijuana use, as well as serious law enforcement concerns, remain unresolved.”
In a further blow for reformers, Carney’s veto comes days after legislation to establish a state-run cannabis industry failed to clear the House for the second time. Despite a 23-15 vote in favour of the measure, it failed to reach the three-fifths majority it required because it would create a new tax — a 15% levy on retail sales.
It seems unlikely Democratic lawmakers will attempt to override the governor’s veto, which hasn’t happened since 1990.