According to a measure that was formally submitted in the Minnesota Legislature on Thursday, legal marijuana sales and usage would start within months of the proposed law regarding the drug’s reclassification being passed. The long-term attempt to legalize cannabis would establish a legal framework and allow adults over the age of 21 to use Marijuana for any purpose.
Supporters gave a summary of the 243-page law and predicted that it would face a difficult journey through the DFL-controlled Legislature starting the next week. Governor Tim Walz said he will sign a law; but, despite passing the House two years ago, it has never passed the Senate.
The idea, according to Rep. Zack Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids, would undergo rigorous scrutiny this session, requiring a look by nearly every committee. It covers everything, including production, legal sales, taxation, and expungement for prior infractions. The measure establishes the Office of Cannabis Management as a new state body to regulate all cannabis- and hemp-related activities.
According to Stephenson, the process to expunge records for specific Marijuana-related felonies may begin before cannabis sales. However, he added that even those would start “in a matter of months, not years.” At a press conference at the Capitol, Stephenson argued that marijuana shouldn’t be prohibited in Minnesota.
“Minnesotans should have the freedom and respect to decide for themselves how to responsibly use cannabis. Our current laws are more detrimental than beneficial. Millions are being spent by state and municipal governments enforcing rules that don’t benefit anyone. He claimed that many of the issues mentioned by opponents of legalization, including concerns about road safety and the ability of employers to control use in the workplace, are addressed by the plan.
Small-scale marijuana cultivation would be permitted for individual use. Commercial sales would be permitted within a predetermined framework and subject to a tax of up to 10%. The money raised by a levy, which may be as much as $150 million per year, according to the bill’s proponents, is intended to pay for the costs of regulation, entrepreneurship support, and public safety issues.
According to House Taxes Chair Aisha Gomez, DFL-Minneapolis, “We created this law to address the wrongs of prohibition, to get individuals out of the illicit market and into a regulated market, which means that we wanted to not have an extremely high tax on cannabis so that it can compete.” The chances of passage in the House are excellent, but it is more difficult to predict the Senate.
A 34-33 DFL majority is in place. The primary Senate sponsor, Burnsville’s Lindsey Port, expressed confidence in the bill’s advancement but acknowledged that it would take some time. Our caucus definitely has to learn some new things, Port remarked. “We haven’t gone through the process the way the House has, which allows their members to learn about it and hear about it,” the speaker said.
She expressed optimism that it would have support from both parties and stated that she had kept a sponsorship line available for a prospective Republican signature. The law shouldn’t be rushed, according to Republican Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson of East Grand Forks. He claimed that his caucus is quite worried.
In a written statement, Johnson stated that “we don’t take the risks that marijuana poses to adolescents, minorities, and the disadvantaged lightly.” The Senate DFL will have to choose between hastening the process to appease their political allies or taking their time to consider if full-scale legalization is best for Minnesota.
Sen. Clare Oumou Verbeten, DFL-Roseville, a first-term senator, was more optimistic about the situation. We’ll complete this in 2023, she assured us. We’ll make sure that it includes expungement and that these wrongs are made right. Additionally, the measure strengthens a new THC edibles law.
This summer saw the legalization of hemp-infused foods and beverages, but regulatory agencies complain that it wasn’t clear who was in charge of overseeing issues with safety, marketing, and chemical concentration of the gummies and seltzers that had suddenly exploded into the market. The arguments that opponents of legal Marijuana would use to refute the legislation were previewed earlier this week.
The Minnesota Trucking Association, a group called Minnesotans Against Marijuana Legalization, is led by John Hausladen. Hausladen stated that legalization would likely make it harder to recruit new truck drivers to the industry because federal regulations have zero tolerance for THC. “We are going to unleash more impaired drivers on Minnesota roadways on an already understaffed law enforcement contingent,” Hausladen added.