The slow burn for the legalization of recreational use of Marijuana in Minnesota continues, but will it pass this time around? Photo courtesy Wesley Gibbs
Written by: Tierney Porter
The Minnesota Senate committee made a historic vote on March 1, 2021 unanimously voting to pass the proposal bill that would allow the use of the marijuana flower for medicinal purposes. This was the first time in a decade that a bill such as this one has passed.
Matt Angel, a senior at St. Cloud State University, said the flower should be legal for medical use because it’s cheaper. “More people will be able to afford it.”
The medicinal use of the flower is not the only marijuana bill trying to pass, as House Majority Leader, Ryan Winkler, and other Democrat lawmakers have reintroduced the adult-use cannabis bill. This bill would make the recreational use of marijuana legal to adults age 21 or older.
“Adults deserve the freedom to decide whether to use cannabis…” said Winkler, the bill’s chief author in an interview with 5 Eyewitness News.
The adult-use marijuana bill, if passed, would allow an adult resident, 21 years of age or older, to legally possess one and a half ounces of cannabis in public, 10 ounces within the privacy of their own home, concentrates and other products derived from marijuana. It would also give them ability to legally grow up to eight marijuana plants in their private residence.
“Although I do not use marijuana, I think the legalization of recreational marijuana would be fine,” Angel said. “Personally, I think marijuana is safer than alcohol and I don’t see a reason why it should be illegal. I have seen many aggressive drunks, but I have never seen someone aggressive on marijuana. If cigarettes and alcohol are legal, so should recreational marijuana.”
Chris Lazo is another St. Cloud State University senior. Lazo said, in all honesty, he would rather have people getting high on marijuana than getting drunk with alcohol.
This would be the second time in two years that Minnesota will be considering the legal use of recreational marijuana.
The big question now on many people’s minds is whether the bill will pass this time around. According to an article on 2020 election results, after the 2020 elections, Democrats maintained control of the House of Representatives after winning 222 seats, while the Republicans only won 213.
At first glance, it would appear Republicans hold control of the Senate with their 50 seats to the Democrats 48, according to senate.gov. However, the two remaining seats belong to two Independents who are caucus with the Democrats, making a 50/50 division. Vice President, Kamala Harris, has the constitutional power to cast tie-breaking votes, and she did just that, giving the Democrats control over the Senate as well.
On Wednesday, March 24, the Adult-use bill cleared a fourth House committee according to Marijuana Moment.
“Legalization of adult-use cannabis is coming to Minnesota one time or another,” said Winkler.
With the majority of seats in Senate belonging to Republicans, there is a chance the bill could fail when if it comes to the Senate.
“If Senate Republicans don’t go along with the policy change legislatively, he said he hopes they will at least let voters decide on cannabis as a 2022 ballot measure,” Winkler said in an article written by Kyle Jaeger.
There are concerns that many Senate Republicans share if the adult-use bill does pass here in Minnesota.
“My main concerns are the unintended consequences of recreational pot similar to the concerns we all have about tobacco, drinking, or prescription drug abuse,” wrote Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka in a statement to Kare 11.
However, there are positives to come if this bill should pass. The state would likely benefit from additional tax revenue and in the same article.
“This bill will create necessary oversight. It will make our communities safer while removing the need for a black market and while eliminating the harm it has done do society,” stated Senator Melisa Franzen.
She also mentioned how law enforcement officers would be able to dedicate their time and resources to more serious crimes.
It is unknown how soon this bill could be passed. It is no surprise that Minnesota has been historically slow to change and allow new things that once were considered taboo when compared to other states. When the bill to allow alcohol sales on Sundays came about, Minnesota was one of the only 12 states left that were still banning the sales of alcohol on Sundays. When surrounding states, such as Wisconsin, started opening seven days a week Minnesotans would simply cross the border to get what they desired which was costing the state of Minnesota many precious tax collections.
History may soon repeat itself with the legalization of recreational marijuana as many surrounding states, including our bordering state of South Dakota which will legalize marijuana starting July 1, 2021 according to Kare 11, have begun the process of or are looking into legalization as well.
“If people are willing to drive to Wisconsin in order to buy fireworks, they’re sure as heck going to drive to South Dakota to get cannabis,” said Winkler.
It appears that it is no longer a conversation of if the adult-use bill will pass, but more a conversation of when.