Delaware Representative Helene M. Keeley to Receive 2018 Change Makers Award

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By Cynthia Ferguson, Delaware NORML

Helene M. Keeley is the longest serving member of the Delaware House of Representatives, representing the 3rd District since 1996.  Public service is her passion and Rep. Keeley is a fierce advocate for women’s rights and criminal justice reform. 

Rep. Keeley has taken an active role in championing important cannabis reform legislation including the Delaware Medical Marijuana Act and an amendment to decriminalize certain marijuana possession offenses.  

In 2017, Representative Helene M. Keeley sponsored HB 110 - which creates the Delaware Marijuana Control Act.  When HB 110 was met with resistance from government and corporate influences, she introduced HCR 52 thereby creating the Adult Use Cannabis Task Force.  

The Task Force was designed to study the effects that legal cannabis would have on Delaware, including consumer safety, substance abuse prevention, impaired driving and other criminal law concerns.  The Task Force met monthly with the charge of creating a report, in six months, for the Governor and the General Assembly.

During the monthly meetings, there was fierce opposition from AAA (legal cannabis would create carnage on the roads), Attack Addictions (cannabis is a gateway drug) The Delaware Chamber of Commerce (employees will come to work impaired) and the Delaware State Police (cannabis consumers should have a designation on their drivers licenses).  Every month, I watched Rep. Keeley defend legalizing cannabis to these powerful lobbying interests and government agencies.  

It was during these meetings, watching her keep her cool and remain true to course, even when the prohibitionist would not keep quiet and nitpicked every detail, that we realized what a champion to cannabis law reform Rep. Keeley truly is.  Delaware NORML nominated her because she has been involved in all cannabis reform legislation in our state.  She also has publically gone up against influential corporations and government agencies to defend legal cannabis.   She is true to the cause and dear to our hearts.   Delaware Representative Helene M. Keeley well deserves the 2018 Change Makers Award.

Caroline Philips