Delaware: A Linchpin for Pennsylvania Cannabis

Pennsylvania Is Under Pressure For Cannabis

Pennsylvania is feeling the pressure to legalize cannabis possession, sales, and use from nearly every direction: New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio, and Delaware have all legalized over the last several months or years.


Neighboring States Bring Full Cannabis Legalization to the East Coast

Both New York and New Jersey have softly launched their adult-use cannabis programs, while Maryland came out of the gate full steam and is already licensing, though they were later to pass legislation.  

With Delaware and Ohio legalizing in 2023, that only leaves West Virginia out to fully encircle Pennsylvania in recreational cannabis markets. West Virginia did pass and license businesses for medical use several years ago, but there hasn’t been talk recently of full legalization.

With Delaware joining the legal cannabis club, the entire eastern border of Pennsylvania is locked in by cannabis-friendly jurisdictions that are happy to serve the residents of Pennsylvania—and notably, the southeast corner of the Keystone State is by far the most densely populated region. With all of these east coast cannabis markets coming online and ramping up in the next year, the medical producers and possibly even politicians will feel the squeeze.

Delaware is Picking up the Pace in its Regulatory and License Rollout

Delaware is well-known for its large and even extreme commuter population and that populous will no longer be forced to purchase cannabis while visiting elsewhere.  

Compared to neighboring New York and New Jersey, Delaware won’t make cannabis consumers wait long. The bills enacting the program were passed in early 2023 and the newly drafted regulations and application are expected in the first half of 2024—a relatively ambitious but attainable timeline compared with other jurisdictions.

Marijuana Control Act Outlines 6 Month Timeline

The Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security (DSHS) is working in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) to implement House Bill 1 and House Bill 2 (the Marijuana Control Act) to create the framework for the production, manufacture, and sale of legal recreational marijuana over the next several months. The DSHS website says, “The State anticipates that licensure applications will be available by May 2024.”

Limited and Competitive Cannabis Licenses in Delaware

Delaware’s competitive license application process in May 2024 will award the following among 125 new cannabis business licenses, including specific designations for micro and social equity businesses:

  • 60 cultivation/grow,
  • 30 manufacturing/processing,
  • 30 retail dispensary, and
  • 5 testing labs

Potential for Pennsylvania Business Owners in Delaware

Delaware offers a potentially lucrative and underrated market. For quick comparison, in Colorado there are about 500-600 retail stores and about a 5-6 million population—roughly 100 retail locations per million. In Delaware, where the population hovers around 1 million, the state will license 30 retailers. Also, with a limited canopy square footage of 12,500 per cultivator, the price per pound in Delaware could remain more stable than other state markets.

Licensing Structure Offers Hope to Surrounding States

Delaware’s licensing structure and population offers a unique opportunity for prepared entrepreneurs in Delaware, as well as Pennsylvania, to enter a profitable cannabis market. Since Pennsylvania has been dragging its proverbial feet in developing its cannabis market, we understand that hopeful cannabis business owners in the state have felt shut out. For many, New York and New Jersey application processes felt too contentious or cumbersome and Maryland’s social equity requirements were too restrictive.


Contact Canna Advisors for an East Coast Cannabis Consultation

For Pennsylvania entrepreneurs who are tired of waiting, reach out to discuss the possibilities in Delaware and pick our brain on the expected rollout. With experience from over 11 years in emerging cannabis market consulting, we can get you going in the right direction. For those looking for more simple support, we also offer hourly consulting blocks to make sure your top questions get answered no matter what stage of business development.

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