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Delaware House Democrats

Osienki Bill Would Enhance Patient Access to Medical Marijuana

December 18, 2023

Lawmakers filed new legislation Thursday that would enhance patient access to medical marijuana and revamp the framework of the Delaware Medical Marijuana Act.

Sponsored by Rep. Ed Osienski, House Bill 285 would make several substantial changes to the way medical marijuana cards are issued and remove barriers that prevent patients from accessing medical marijuana in Delaware.

“Following our successful passage of the Delaware Marijuana Control Act last year, establishing a framework for the legalization and regulation of recreational marijuana use in our state, we have actively engaged with and taken feedback from medical marijuana patients. Drawing from their insights, we identified numerous ways to improve our medical marijuana program,” said Rep. Ed Osienski.

“This bill recognizes the need to modernize the issuance of registry identification cards and would remove barriers that hinder patients who stand to benefit from medical marijuana access.”

HB 285 would remove the requirement that a patient must have a debilitating medical condition to qualify for a registry identification card. Instead, health-care providers would determine whether a patient has a diagnosed medical condition that would benefit therapeutically or palliatively from the use of medical marijuana.

“With the full legalization of adult-use recreational cannabis last year, Rep. Osienski, Sen. Trey Paradee and I agree that it is time to update our medical marijuana law and make it easier for the people who rely on these products to get the therapy that they need,” said Sen. Kyra Hoffner, the Senate prime sponsor of HB 285.

“These changes will empower patients and their healthcare providers to make decisions about the treatments that best fit their needs and make those treatments more readily accessible for our neighbors with the greatest need.”

HB 285 would modify the issuance process of medical marijuana registry identification cards, which facilitate the acquisition, delivery, possession, or transfer of medical marijuana. These cards are authorized documents granted to eligible adult patients, registered designated caregivers assisting adult patients, or registered designated caregivers for pediatric patients.

Under HB 285, patients aged 65 and older could self-certify their qualification for a registry identification card without a written certification from a health-care provider. The bill would also allow for flexible expiration dates on registry identification cards, enabling 1-, 2-, or 3-year expiration dates. In cases where a qualifying patient has a terminal illness, the legislation allows for the issuance of a registry identification card with an indefinite expiration date.

Additionally, the bill would enable individuals with a medical card or a similar certification from another state or U.S. territory to use it in Delaware, just as they would if they had a Delaware- issued medical card.

HB 285 has been assigned to the House Health & Human Development Committee.

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