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The Minnesota Senate voted Friday April 28th to legalize recreational marijuana for adults. The bill would make Minnesota the 23rd State planning to legalize.
by Rowan Nathan · May 02, 2023
The Minnesota Senate voted Friday April 28th to legalize recreational marijuana for adults. The bill would make Minnesota the 23rd State planning to legalize, a week after Delaware announced its intentions. However Minnesotans will need to wait as the bill requires more work before it becomes a law.
The tight vote was 34-33, distinctly along party lines with all Democrats voting yes and all Republicans voting no. There are several differences between the Senate bill and a version that passed the House 71-59 just days before. A House-Senate conference committee will need to negotiate final language ahead of final votes in the House and Senate.
Gov. Tim Walz(D) has pledged to sign the bill once it reaches his desk.
“The prohibition of cannabis is a failed system that has not achieved the desired goals and has had incredible costs for our communities, especially for communities of color,” the lead author, Democratic Sen. Lindsey Port, of Burnsville, told her colleagues.
Port said lawmakers have an “opportunity to undo some of the harm that has been done and create a unique system of regulation that works for Minnesota consumers and businesses, while ensuring an opportunity in this new market for communities that have been most affected by prohibition.”
Republican senators argued during the debate that the bill isn’t ready to become law this year and needs more work. They expressed concerns about the impacts on traffic safety and crime, addiction and other mental health issues. They objected because local governments would be barred under the bill from disallowing cannabis sales if they don’t want them. And they said they weren’t reassured by the experiences of other states that have legalized it.
“We’re opening a door that is going to be very difficult to close, and it’s going to be very difficult to put the genie back on the bottle once this occurs,” said Republican Sen. Warren Limmer, of Maple Grove, the lead Republican on the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.
Both versions of the bill run well over 300 pages. And both would legalize possession summer, including home grows of up to eight plants. However there are several major differences:
the Senate version allows people to possess up to 5 pounds of cannabis flower at home- a relatively hefty stash, though only 2 pounds could be from sources other than home-grown.
The House limit is 1.5 pounds from any source.
The tax rate on cannabis products in the Senate bill is 10%, compared to 8% in the House version.