Minnesota Home Passes Grownup Marijuana Invoice

Minnesota House passed a bill on Thursday to legalize adult cannabis in the state – the furthest any proposal to legalize cannabis has done in Minnesota’s law. However, the measure faces difficult opportunities and great opposition if it penetrates the GOP-led Senate.

Minnesota House Approves Cannabis Legalization in Historic Vote

After a long debate on Thursday evening, Minnesota lawmakers passed an amended bill by 72-61 votes that brought the state one step closer to full legalization of cannabis. The measure, submitted by House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (D – District 46A), would allow Minnesotans 21 and older to own up to two ounces of marijuana in public places and eradicate previous cannabis-related crimes.

“House File 600 legalizes cannabis for adult use in Minnesota and clears records of previous cannabis convictions,” Rep. Winkler said ahead of the vote. “It creates a legal marketplace that is geared towards increasing opportunities for small and medium-sized Minnesota businesses and creates a path for social justice applicants to be part of a growing industry.”

The extensive 250-page bill aims to establish a cannabis board of directors and advisory boards to oversee the legal marijuana market in Minnesota and “provide for the licensing, inspection and regulation of cannabis companies.”

A sales tax on cannabis products will also be introduced under the legislation, in addition to:

  • Erasure of low-level cannabis convictions
  • Restrictions on cannabis advertising
  • Nationwide surveillance system for cannabis products
  • Home growing of up to eight cannabis plants
  • Grants and Loan Programs for Social Justice Applicants

In the legal text, social justice applicants are defined as those who live in areas where “a disproportionate number of cannabis enforcement activities have been carried out”.

“The Minnesota cannabis ban was a failure,” Winkler continued on the floor of the house. “The criminal penalties associated with the cannabis ban have been wrongly applied to color communities, particularly black Minnesotans.”

According to a report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), black Minnesotans are 5.4 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than white Minnesotans, despite similar consumption rates.

“Minnesota vigorously enforces marijuana laws, which are disproportionately directed against black communities and drag hundreds of thousands of people into the criminal justice system each year,” said Benjamin Feist, ACLU chief programs officer in Minnesota. “For the sake of racial justice and sound public health policies, Minnesota must legalize marijuana, with racial justice being the foundation of reform.”

Despite the momentum and support behind legalization in Minnesota, many Senate Republicans are already preparing to crush the legislation.

“Making a legalized pot for fun – we just don’t think that’s a good idea,” said Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R – District 9). He and other conservative lawmakers are more likely to be in favor of a revision of the state’s current medical marijuana program. Gazelka tells reporters that Winkler’s amended bill will “go up in smoke”.

Gazelka’s remarks are in stark contrast to the efforts of the House legislature to include input from both sides of the political gang. At the beginning of the discussion on the bill, Rep. Winkler said the Democrats wanted “changes to the final form of most of the amendments offered by the Republican side”.

Despite the predicted outcome of the bill in the hands of the Senate, many supporters of legalization in Minnesota remain hopeful.

“These thoughtful efforts will result in what is probably the most carefully considered cannabis bill in the country,” said House spokeswoman Melissa Hortman (D – District 36B). “It is responsible and it is time for us to end the ban.”

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