Only days after the House of Representatives passed a comparable adult-use cannabis legalization package, the Minnesota Senate last week decided to support a plan to legalize marijuana for recreational use. On Friday, the Senate passed Senate File 73 by a vote of 34-33, with all senators from the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) voting in favor and all Republicans voting against.
In addition to creating a regulatory framework for the manufacture and sale of recreational marijuana, the proposed legislation would make it lawful for adults aged 21 and older to possess and use cannabis. Adults could buy treats containing up to 800 milligrams of THC, 8 grams of cannabis concentrate, and up to two ounces of marijuana. Marijuana production at home will also be accepted if adults don’t exceed eight plants.
History of Cannabis in Minnesota
The attitude towards cannabis in Minnesota is more favorable than in years past and promises to impact the economy and those with past convictions positively. According to the Associated Press, quoting DFL Senator Lindsey Port, “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.” She feels 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 most affected by prohibition.”
What does the Minnesota Legalization Bill include?
The bill includes provisions to expunge convictions for various marijuana-related offenses to rectify the harms brought on by decades of cannabis prohibition. According to DFL Senator Claire Oumou Verbeten, the measure is required to remove the persistent racial imbalance in applying the country’s drug laws.
The Minnesota House of Representatives approved a companion bill to the Senate measure last week, paving the way for a conference committee to resolve discrepancies between the two pieces of legislation. The House and Senate will vote on the bill’s final version once the conference committee settles any differences between the two laws.
What are the differences between the two separate versions of the legislation?
The Senate version of the measure permits adults to possess up to five pounds of marijuana, including no more than two pounds from sources other than home growing, as opposed to the two pounds outlined in the House version. Local governments may limit the number of cannabis retailers under the Senate measure. Although neither version of the bill permits towns or counties to prohibit dispensaries outright, the House version does not contain such restrictions. In addition, the Senate version taxes cannabis items at a rate of 10%, whereas the House version assesses an 8% tax. To handle the licensing and regulation of cannabis businesses, both acts create the Office of Cannabis Management.
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