A proposal to legalize marijuana for adults is up for a vote within the Minnesota House for the primary time in state historical past.
The measure is anticipated to move within the DFL-led chamber on Thursday and has the backing of Gov. Tim Walz. It faces lengthy odds within the Senate, the place Republicans in management have mentioned it’s not a precedence this session.
But supporters say the historic vote marks shifting attitudes towards marijuana in Minnesota and throughout the nation, the place 15 states have already voted to legalize the drug and are producing new tax income.
Minnesota’s proposal permits adults 21 and older to purchase and possess marijuana, whereas spelling out security necessities and organising a market to promote it. It dedicates funding to youth entry prevention and substance abuse therapy packages.
The centerpiece of the invoice are racial equity provisions that supporters say will begin to address the disproportionate toll marijuana policing has taken on communities of color. Black individuals are greater than 5 instances extra seemingly than white individuals to be arrested for marijuana possession in Minnesota, regardless of comparable utilization charges, in accordance with a 2020 report from the American Civil Liberties Union.
The invoice would robotically expunge low-level marijuana convictions and create a particular board to evaluation others.
Opponents to legalization testified in committee hearings that they feared unsafe highways, elevated substance-abuse issues and confusion over the right way to deal with people who find themselves excessive within the office.
Currently, Minnesota solely permits marijuana for sure medical circumstances and its program is among the of the strictest within the nation, prohibiting enrollees from smoking the uncooked cannabis flower.
A 2020 Star Tribune/MPR News Minnesota Poll found that 51% of registered Minnesota voters support legalizing the drug.
Thursday’s vote is fruits of 15 conferences in communities throughout the state, session with 13 state companies, a number of working teams and roughly 16 hours of debate in a dozen House committee hearings this session.
There is rising help for full legalization amongst Minnesota Democrats. Attorney General Keith Ellison tweeted his backing of legalization, citing racial disparities in marijuana policing, and U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips despatched a letter House leaders on Wednesday in help of the invoice.
Several Republican legislators voted in favor of legalization because the proposal made its manner by House committees. Voters in conservative states like South Dakota backed legalization with 54% of the vote in November, though its going through a problem within the courts.
The vote is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m. This is a growing story.
Briana Bierschbach • 651-925-5042