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Senate confirms Coupe as Delaware marijuana commissioner

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DOVER – The Delaware State Senate confirmed Robert Coupe, a former superintendent of the Delaware State Police, to become the state’s first marijuana commissioner, who is tasked with standing up the recreational marijuana sales market.

Robert Coupe DELAWARE

Robert Coupe | PHOTO COURTESY OF STATE OF DELAWARE

The Senate voted 19-0 Wednesday afternoon, with two absences, to approve Gov. John Carney’s nomination of Coupe.

Carney has repeatedly voiced his concerns on marijuana legalization on the health of young Delawareans and other implications of driving under the influence. But the governor decided to “pocket approve” a law passed by the General Assembly this spring, as he thought “we spent far too much time focused on this issue.”

Carney’s goal from that point on was to ensure Delaware has a “robust regulatory system” that protects the most vulnerable people as well as avoiding the challenges seen in other states in setting up the system and rolling it out. Choosing a former top cop who has experience in top-level policy as well as working directly in the state Justice department may be his move to ensure the legal framework is designed to meet that goal.

For 27 years, Coupe worked in the Delaware State Police, namely commanding the criminal investigative unit for the agency’s operations in New Castle County. In 2009, he was appointed superintendent of the agency, overseeing 676 troopers and 270 civilian employees.

After retiring from the state police, Coupe was named commissioner of the state Department of Corrections under Gov. Jack Markell, where he remained for almost four years. When Carney was elected, he appointed Coupe to secretary of the Department of Safety & Homeland Security, which oversees eight divisions, two councils supporting persons with disabilities and the E911 Board.

In 2020, Coupe stepped down to become chief of staff to Attorney General Kathy Jennings and later chief of staff in the Department of Technology and Information (DTI), where he has worked since.

Now, as the state’s marijuana commissioner, he will be tasked with organizing up an oversight office, outlining regulations and issuing 125 licenses to grow and sell cannabis to adults.

“I am committed to serving our great state and ensuring that the marijuana industry in Delaware is safe, equitable, and accessible to those consumers who are eligible use recreational marijuana,” Coupe told the Senate Executive Committee just before the floor vote.

In other Cabinet moves Wednesday, the Senate confirmed Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families (DSCYF) Secretary Josette Manning to replace Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Molly Magarik, who is departing the administration.

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