`Minn.: Curtain closes on legislative session

Minn.: Curtain closes on legislative session; Senate blocks raw cannabis

May 19, 2020

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Make sure you’re registered to vote, so you can help elect a better legislature next year.

Yesterday was the last day of Minnesota’s legislative session, and, sadly, important cannabis policy reforms fell short.

An array of legalization proposals died without receiving floor votes, including House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler’s 222-page bill. HF 4632 reflected extensive input from stakeholders and a statewide listening tour. Rep. Winkler had intended to pass it through the House this year, but the coronavirus derailed his plans.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka vowed legalization wouldn’t pass the Senate because his Republican caucus remains opposed. Under Gazelka’s and Sen. Michelle Benson’s leadership, the Senate killed even a modest, House-passed proposal to allow whole plant, raw medical cannabis late Sunday night. Without this reform, the costs of medical cannabis will remain out of reach for many Minnesotans.

On a bright note, our allies at Sensible Change Minnesota were able to extend eligibility for reduced fees to individuals who qualify for veterans or railroad disability, and to extend the reduced fee for patients who transition from SSDI to retirement benefits.

While it’s possible the legislature will return for a COVID-related special session, there is very little chance that cannabis policy reforms will be taken up. But there is still ample opportunity to make a difference this year: Elections are just around the corner.

The entire state House and Senate will be on the ballot. If you’re eligible to vote, make sure you’re registered. You can also sign up to vote early by mail.

Relatively few voters take an active role in state legislative races, so even a handful of advocates can have an outsized influence. We hope you’ll reach out to candidates in your area and consider volunteering for and/or donating to supporters. The best way to ensure champions are in St. Paul is to help elect them. Stay tuned for voter guides.