An advocacy group in Delaware is enlisting volunteers to clean up their community –– and then clear their mind.
Called “Joints for Junk,” the program works exactly like it sounds: in exchange for a round of trash clean-up, the Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network awards the volunteers with a joint of legal cannabis.
“People preregistered, showed up, signed a waiver and we gave them a joint,” says Zoë Patchell, president of Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network, told the Delaware News Journal. “And, actually, nobody took the joint and left. It was a really positive, inspiring day.”
The group held the first “Joints for Junk” event in the fall, months after Delaware legalized recreational pot for adults.
According to the Delaware News Journal, the event –– held in Millsboro, Delaware –– ”drew more than 50 volunteers over the age of 21 with each getting a pre-rolled joint, which was donated by members of the nonprofit group.” The outlet said that, under the new state law, “anyone can gift an adult up to an ounce of marijuana.”
“It was probably one of our best turnouts for a community service project,” Patchell said, as quoted by the Delaware News Journal. “There were a number of new people we had never met before, and a few of them even became members.”
“It was a really positive reception,” Patchell added. “We just told them we were here to make Millsboro more green.”
Delaware legalized adult-use marijuana in April, when Democratic Gov. John Carney allowed a pair of bills to become law. Carney had previously vetoed legislative proposals to legalize marijuana, but he stood down this year when Delaware lawmakers passed the measures with veto-proof majorities.
“These two pieces of legislation remove all state-level civil and criminal penalties from simple marijuana possession and create a highly regulated industry to conduct recreational marijuana sales in Delaware,” Carney said in a statement at the time. “As I’ve consistently said, I believe the legalization of recreational marijuana is not a step forward. I support both medical marijuana and Delaware’s decriminalization law because no one should go to jail for possessing a personal use quantity of marijuana. And today, they do not.”
Carney stressed that he remained opposed to legalization.
“I want to be clear that my views on this issue have not changed. And I understand there are those who share my views who will be disappointed in my decision not to veto this legislation,” said Carney. “I came to this decision because I believe we’ve spent far too much time focused on this issue, when Delawareans face more serious and pressing concerns every day. It’s time to move on.”
State House Rep. Ed Osienski, the sponsor of the two bills, celebrated the breakthrough, which made Delaware the 22nd state to legalize weed for adults.
“After five years of countless meetings, debates, negotiations and conversations, I’m grateful we have reached the point where Delaware has joined a growing number of states that have legalized and regulated adult recreational marijuana for personal use,”Osienski said in a statement. “We know that more than 60% of Delawareans support the legalization of marijuana for adult recreational use, and more than two-thirds of the General Assembly agreed.”
Osienski also saluted Carney for allowing the bills to become law.
“I understand the governor’s personal opposition to legalization, so I especially appreciate him listening to the thousands of residents who support this effort and allowing it to become law,” Osienski added. “I am committed to working with the administration to ensure that the effort to establish the regulatory process goes as smoothly as possible.”
The law allows individual communities in Delaware to opt out and ban weed within their jurisdictions.
Members of the town council in Millsboro did just that in September, when they unanimously passed an ordinance that bans the cultivation and sale of marijuana within their city limits.
At the first “Joints for Junk” event held in November, volunteers “collected [trash] from the area surrounding the Millsboro Town Center ― the same place where the Town Council voted against marijuana just six days prior at a Nov. 6 public hearing,” according to the Delaware News Journal.
Patchell said that the group wanted to “show everyone that cannabis consumers care about the community and a lot of the negative stereotypes are simply not true.”
“We care just like everybody else,” Patchell said.
According to the Delaware News Journal, six teams were “deployed in fluorescent yellow vests to pick up any garbage they found using large garbage bags of the same color” from 10 a.m. to noon.
“While there were no issues reported with their first ‘Joints for Junk’ project, some residents came out from their homes to ask what was happening as they saw the brightly dressed volunteers roaming the neighborhood,” the outlet said.