On Tuesday, Minnesota House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (D) introduced his long-awaited legislation to legalize and regulate cannabis in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The comprehensive bill — which Winkler deemed “the best legalization bill in the country” — reflects stakeholder input, including from his "Be Heard on Cannabis" tour over the fall and winter, and from organizations including MPP. It currently has 33 cosponsors.
Coming in at a whopping 222 pages, the legislation includes much to be proud of, including efforts to address the harms of cannabis prohibition by prioritizing social equity and diversity in industry licensing and expunging many past cannabis convictions automatically.
Winkler’s proposal would allow Minnesota adults 21 and older to possess and transport up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana (and eight grams of cannabis concentrates) in public and keep up to 10 pounds at their private residences. Adults could grow up to eight cannabis plants at home, four of which could be mature and flowering. A variety of cannabis businesses would be allowed under the proposal, with retail and on-site sales of cannabis products subject to a 10 percent tax.
Although a majority of Minnesota voters are in favor of legalizing cannabis, the bill is not expected to pass this year. In addition to the legislature’s current priority of responding to the pandemic, leadership in the Senate is behind the times. Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R) has said the Republican caucus is strongly opposed, and that legalization would not pass the Senate.
However, the entire legislature will be on the ballot in November, so there’s an opportunity to elect more lawmakers that recognize the folly of prohibition. Stay tuned for voter guides and other ways to get engaged as the election approaches.
We hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy.