By distributing an email blast on Friday urging people to sign a petition in favor of the change, Minnesota’s governor is urging supporters to join lawmakers and the administration in their effort to legalize Marijuana this session. Cannabis legalization has become a particularly hot topic in Minnesota since the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party won control of the House, Senate, and governorship in the last election.
Lawmakers are preparing to advance the matter with Gov. Tim Walz’s (D) proactive support. Legislators released a revamped legalization plan on Thursday, which expands upon a reform bill that was passed by the House in 2021 after passing through more than a dozen committees. Ryan Winkler, a former member of the House majority who is currently the chairman of an advocacy group for cannabis legalization, pushed for the passage of that measure.
While everything is going on, Walz has been pressuring the legislature to pass legislation legalizing Marijuana, and he is using the current wave of popularity to rally more people for the measure. In support of this, the governor put out an email blast that claims Minnesota’s present cannabis regulations are “doing more harm than good.”
“It’s time for us to follow common sense and harness the proven benefits of legalizing adult-use cannabis—from expanding our economy, improving our criminal justice system, creating well-paying jobs across our state, and creating more space for law enforcement to focus on violent crime,” the email states.
In his statement, Walz makes reference to the recently introduced legalization legislation that Sen. Lindsey Port (D) and Rep. Zack Stephenson (D) are sponsoring in their respective chambers. Then, if readers believe that “Minnesotans deserve the ability to make responsible decisions regarding cannabis use themselves,” they are instructed to sign an online petition.
Of course, obtaining contact details from potential donors is another campaign fundraising purpose that the email and petition also serve. With the Democratic majority in place, it’s also another indication that the governor sees a chance to ultimately abolish prohibition in Minnesota.
In a phone interview with Marijuana Moment on Friday, Winkler stated that the governor’s prompt and enthusiastic support is “critically vital” to this procedure and that supporters have a “high degree of trust” that “this measure is something he is willing to sign.” Naturally, all of it is open to modification and adjustment, he added.
But because of the work that was done, we are prepared to move forward with the governor, the House, and the Senate as a baseline product. The House Commerce Committee, which Stephenson leads and is the bill’s sponsor, has already scheduled a hearing for the new reform bill for this coming Wednesday. As was the case for Winkler’s earlier version, which finally stalled in the GOP-controlled Senate, it is anticipated that it will pass through a variety of committee stops before being debated on the floor.
Despite a few significant changes, the updated draft largely follows Winkler’s legislation. The Minnesota THC law, which the government approved last year, for instance, provides a new license category for companies that offer “lower-potency edible goods.”
Additionally, such licensees would have fewer regulatory requirements, and if they hold a liquor license, they would be permitted to allow on-site use. This is done to protect the current low-THC beverage and edible businesses from interruption. I believe the three years of work that went into enacting House File 600 in 2021 makes it conceivable to do this in 2023, Winkler said to Marijuana Moment.
Without creating that foundation, “I think it would not be possible to achieve cannabis legalization,” said the state senator was given the new majority and the pressing need to deal with the budget. Here are the main components of the revised marijuana legalization bill:
- Cannabis can be purchased in quantities of up to two ounces by those 21 and older, who can also grow up to eight plants, four of which can reach maturity.
- In a public setting, they were only allowed to have two ounces, while in a private residence, they may have up to five pounds.
- It would be acceptable for adults to freely give each other up to two ounces of marijuana.
- By guaranteeing that varied licensure candidates receive higher scores for equity, it would help to advance social equity.
- The automatic expungement of prior marijuana records would also apply. To determine who qualifies for relief and to handle expungements, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension would be in charge.
- Municipalities and counties may also own and run government dispensaries in addition to establishing a network of cannabis companies with licenses.
- Under the proposed legislation, cannabis delivery services would be allowed as well as on-site consumption permits for events.
- Local governments would not be allowed to forbid marijuana shops from operating in their areas, unlike in many states where it is lawful to do so, though they might impose “reasonable” restrictions on the hours that the businesses must be open and where they can be found.
- An 8% tax would be applied to retail cannabis sales. Programs for treating drug and alcohol abuse as well as grants for farmers would also be funded in part by this revenue.
- The market would need to be regulated, and new cannabis business licenses would need to be issued by the Office of Cannabis Management, which would be created. A division of social equity would be established.
- Those in low-income areas and veterans who lost their honor as a result of a cannabis-related infraction would be regarded as social equity candidates and would be qualified for priority licensing.
- In its updated form, the law corrects a problem with the current law’s prohibition on the sale of THC products in liquor stores.
- In line with the Board of Pharmacy regulations put in place last year, it also contains language that prohibits synthetic cannabis.
Marijuana Moment is tracking hundreds of cannabis, psychedelics, and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts, and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.
Considering that Democrats will be in charge of both chambers during the upcoming session, lawmakers and the governor are optimistic that legalization will be accomplished. Democrats informally agreed to talk about the subject right away after their election victory in November.
Cannabis reform is anticipated to be included in the governor’s upcoming budget proposal, according to House Speaker Melissa Hortman (D), though she emphasized that the legislative process to pass the reform “will take a long time.”
Hortman stated that legalizing marijuana is “a priority,” despite being “extremely huge, complicated,” despite the fact that it was not included in a list of legislative objectives that Democrats released on Tuesday. In his previous executive budget request, the governor requested money for legalization’s implementation; but, lawmakers were unable to pass the change in policy.
Hortman and he disagree on how quickly the matter can be resolved this session, with Walz recently stating that it would be finished “by May.” According to Winkler, “it is likely that [legalization] will be done by May,” he stated.
He explained, “The reason is that the legislature adjourns until 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 better by waiting.” In order to approve this bill, is in everyone’s best interest. There is still a lot of work to be done prior to implementation, and he asserted that delaying another year would just increase people’s fear over its eventual passage.
A majority of Minnesotans favor the state’s decision to allow THC-infused edibles earlier this year, according to one survey, while two surveys conducted in September concluded that the majority of Minnesotans agree with the legalization of adult-use marijuana.
Majority support for legalization was also discovered in a survey that House officials conducted at the yearly State Fair and released in September. A survey conducted by the legislature revealed that 61 percent of Minnesotans support the legalization of cannabis for adult usage.
When the House Public Information Services surveyed fairgoers on the subject last year, support increased to 62% this year from 58 percent. 56 percent of people support legalization, according to a 2019 House poll.
Read the full text of the governor’s marijuana legalization email blast below:
Hi [FIRST NAME]
Minnesota’s current cannabis laws are doing more harm than good.
It’s time for us to follow common sense and harness the proven benefits of legalizing adult-use cannabis—from expanding our economy, improving our criminal justice system, creating good-paying jobs across our state, and creating more space for law enforcement to focus on violent crime.
That’s why Lt. Governor Flanagan and I are calling on the legislature to fund the safe and responsible legalization of adult-use cannabis in Minnesota. Just yesterday, DFL legislators introduced legislation to get it done, and I’m asking you to help us keep the pressure on.
Add your name to send the unmistakable message that Minnesota is ready to legalize adult-use cannabis and expunge cannabis convictions:
This legislation would give us the tools to tax and regulate adult-use cannabis in Minnesota, improve our existing medical cannabis program, offer grants to promote equity and fairness in the legal cannabis market and fund a statewide education campaign to promote safe consumption.[FIRST NAME], if there’s any state that can do this right, it’s Minnesota. There’s no reason for us to get left behind.
If you agree that Minnesotans deserve the freedom to make responsible decisions about cannabis use themselves, click here to sign on and make your voice heard: Legalize adult-use cannabis.
Let’s get this to my desk. I’m ready to sign it.