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Marijuana Legalization Bill Passes Another Minnesota House Committee; Senate Panel Considers Changes!

On Tuesday, a committee in the Minnesota House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill to legalize marijuana in the state, while a similar committee in the Minnesota Senate took up its version of the proposal but tabled a decision until a later date.

On Monday, the House Health Finance and Policy Committee approved legislation by Democratic Rep. Zack Stephenson in a voice vote, making it the tenth House committee to approve the overhaul. In the meantime, a similar bill proposed by Senator Lindsey Port was heard in the Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee (D).

The committee made progress on numerous amendments before running out of time for the day. Stephenson told lawmakers, “Minnesota’s current laws are doing more harm than good.” “Minnesotans should be trusted with the autonomy to decide for themselves whether or not they want to legalize cannabis.”

Prohibition of cannabis, Port said at the hearing in her chamber, “is a failed system that has not achieved the desired goals and has had terrible costs for our communities, especially communities of color.” “We have an opportunity today to continue the process to correct some of the harm that has been done and develop a system of regulation that works for Minnesota consumers and businesses,” she added.

In both the Senate and the House, former Minnesota governor and longtime marijuana reform advocate Jesse Ventura testified. He told senators, “It feels amazing that I am still alive to see this bill pass and become law.”

Like he did earlier this month when he spoke before a different committee, Ventura said that his wife’s usage of medical cannabis to treat a severe seizure disorder “saved my life.” Democratic-Farmer-Labor party officials are optimistic that legalization will be passed soon after the long committee deliberation because their party has majorities in the House and Senate and controls the governorship this session.

The Governor’s Office has estimated that the State of California will collect millions of Dollars in Cannabis Tax Revenue once the reform is passed, and the Governor has included funding to implement marijuana legalization and expungements in his recently issued biennial budget request.

The Democratic governor of Minnesota, Tim Walz, recently gave an interview in which he detailed his proposal and explained why he is pushing for a tax rate on marijuana sales that is roughly double that of the measure moving through the legislature. Former House Majority Leader and current MN are Ready Campaign Chair Ryan Winkler (D) authored the legislation in question.

About a month ago, the organization declared that it would be lobbying in favor of the proposal and conducting a grassroots movement to create support for reform. The governor has sent out an email blast to his constituents last month urging them to sign a petition in favor of legalizing marijuana this session and has urged lawmakers and the administration to do the same.

The proposals currently making their way through the committee have been substantially altered to be in line with Winkler’s original legislation; nonetheless, there are a few significant differences, as well as the newly adopted modifications. For instance, it expands the scope of Minnesota’s one-of-a-kind THC statute by creating a new licensing category for firms selling “lower-potency edible items.”

To protect existing businesses providing low-THC beverages and edibles, licensees would be subject to fewer restrictions and might allow for consumption on the premises if they also hold a liquor license. The House committee heard many proposed changes on Tuesday. After promising to include its contents in the future, a more substantial author’s amendment, Stephenson withdrew one suggestion.

As written, it would add a representative of the Local Public Health Association of Minnesota to the Cannabis Advisory Council, and mandate that the commissioner of health consult with local health departments on a youth education program about the dangers of marijuana.

Instruct the health commissioner to distribute marijuana education grants to localities and tribes, and include an appropriations provision to finance these initiatives. Another amendment that would have capped the THC content of cannabis flower at 35% and concentrates at 60% was also defeated.

A proposal to have cannabis product labels contain a warning that they are “not advised for individuals under the age of 25” and to have authorities study scientific research on the effects of marijuana usage on brain development in people under the age of 25 was also shot down. But, Stephenson said he would use parts of the change proposed by his next sponsor.

Several modifications proposed by Port were approved by the Senate committee during its own hearing. The amendments proposed by the sponsor would, among other things, prohibit hospitals and other medical facilities from “unreasonably limiting a patient’s access to or use of medical cannabis,” remove restrictions on when patients with certain conditions can qualify for medical marijuana, make patient registrations permanent rather than valid for only one year, and remove a provision prohibiting medical cannabis consumption “on the grounds of a child care facility or family or group family day care”.

Her other proposed changes would have the Minnesota Department of Health enforce laws pertaining to edible cannabinoid products, add the commissioner of human services and two licensed mental health professionals to the Cannabis Advisory Council, and mandate an additional warning to marijuana products that includes the phone number of the Minnesota Poison Control System.

Other proposed changes to the Port would get rid of the language that says “the registration or reregistration period of a medical cannabis manufacturer expires on July 1, 2024,” and make it more clear that cannabis event organizers cannot allow marijuana smoking in any area where tobacco smoking is not permitted, shift the emphasis from substance use “disorder” to recovery in discussions of the scope of grants created and funded by the legalization bill, and more.

Legislators proposed amendments that, if passed, would add experts in toxicology, pediatric medicine, and adult medicine to the Cannabis Advisory Council and the Substance Use Disorder Advisory Council, respectively, and mandate the collection of data on trends in hospital-treated cannabis poisoning and adverse events.

Another amendment’s backer decided to drop a plan that would have sent 20 percent of general fund marijuana proceeds to a grant account for treating and preventing substance abuse. Finally, the sponsor of an amendment to raise the age at which marijuana may be legally purchased from 21 to 25 has withdrawn it but hinted that he would reintroduce it when the committee resumes its work.

The Senate had planned to resume consideration of the bill on Wednesday, but the meeting was postponed due to inclement weather. After passing out of Ways and Means, the bill would have gone to the House’s Public Safety Budget and Policy Committee

which was scheduled to hear it this coming Thursday but has since been delayed indefinitely. After passing the present committee, the Senate version will be sent to the Human Services Committee for consideration.

The Updated Marijuana Legalization Legislation, Hf 100 and Sf 73 Have the Following Key Provisions:

  1. All those over the age of 21 were allowed to buy up to two ounces of cannabis and grow up to eight plants, four of which might be in their final stages of development.
  2. They were allowed up to two ounces in public and five pounds at home.
  3. It would be legal for adults to exchange up to two ounces of marijuana as gifts without exchanging money.
  4. It would further the cause of social justice by giving preference in licensing applications to those who demonstrate financial need.
  5. Previous arrests for marijuana possession would likewise be sealed. Those who qualify for relief and the processing of expungements would be handled by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
  6. Local governments might own and run government dispensaries alongside a system of legal cannabis enterprises.
  7. The bill would legalize cannabis delivery services and allow for on-site consumption permits at events.
  8. Municipalities could regulate the hours of operation and the location of marijuana companies, but they could not prohibit them like they may in several legal states.
  9. A rate of 8% would be applied to retail cannabis sales. Substance abuse treatment programs and farm subsidy awards would both receive funding from this.
  10. To oversee the industry’s oversight and license distribution, a new Office of Cannabis Management would be set up. A Department of Social Justice would be created.
  11. Social equity candidates, such as those who live in low-income areas or who served in the armed forces but lost their honor because of a cannabis-related infraction, would receive priority licenses.
  12. As amended, the law removes a loophole in existing law that allowed the sale of THC products at liquor stores.
  13. It also includes wording prohibiting synthetic cannabis, which is in line with regulations adopted by the Board of Pharmacy in 2016.

Education Finance Committee, Human Services Policy Committee, Workforce Development Finance and Policy Committee, Agriculture Finance and Policy Committee, State and Local Government Finance and Policy Committee, Labor and Industry Finance and Policy Committee, Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee, Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee, Commerce Finance, and Policy Committee, and Rules and Administration Committee all approved the bill in recent weeks.

The Environment, Climate, and Legacy Committee, the Agriculture, Broadband, and Rural Development Committee, the Jobs and Economic Development Committee, the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee, and the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee of the Senate have all approved the measure.

Several laws pertaining to cannabis, psychedelics, and drug policy have been introduced in state legislatures and the U.S. Congress this year, and Marijuana Moment is keeping tabs on all of them. Pledgers on Patreon who contribute at least $25 per month are given access to our dynamic maps, charts, and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any updates.

Legislators and the governor are hopeful that legalization will happen this session because Democrats now control both houses, whereas they only did so in the House before. With their November victory, Democrats have agreed to have an internal discussion on the matter soon.

In a recent interview, Democratic House Speaker Melissa Hortman indicated that she anticipates cannabis reform to be included in the governor’s future budget request, but that it “will take a long time” to pass through the legislature.

Hortman has called marijuana reform “a priority,” despite the fact that it was left off the Democrats’ list of legislative goals announced last month. The governor requested funds for legalization to be implemented in his latest executive budget, but lawmakers were unable to pass the proposal.

Notwithstanding Walz’s previous prediction that progress on the problem would be completed “by May,” Speaker Hortman has indicated that it may not be resolved until the next session. Winkler told Marijuana, Moment, last month that “it is likely that [passing legalization] will be done by May,” echoing the governor’s prediction.

He explained, “The legislature adjourns till next year at the end of May, so if they don’t accomplish it in that timeline, it’ll take another full year—and I don’t think anything will be enhanced or bettered by waiting. Thus, “it is in the interest of everyone to get this bill enacted.” The majority of Minnesotans, according to two surveys published in September, are in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, and an even larger majority.

Another poll supports the state’s decision to allow THC-infused edibles, which was passed earlier this year. Meanwhile in September, results from a survey performed by House staff during the State Fair were made public, showing widespread support for legalization.

Sixty-one percent of Minnesota adults agree with legalizing cannabis in a poll commissioned by the legislature. When the House Public Information Services polled fairgoers in 2021, just 58% said they supported the idea. A majority of Americans (56% according to a 2019 House poll) favor legalization.

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Sheela Sharma

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Sheela is a skilled and experienced writer with a deep passion for all things related to the CBD industry. She enjoys writing everything related to CBD and Marijuana. When she isn't writing she likes to watch tv series and listen to podcasts.

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