Minnesota Marijuana Legalization Bill Advances Through Its Seventh Committee Stop

March 2, 2023 · marijuanamoment.net

A marijuana legalization bill cleared another Minnesota Senate committee on Wednesday, bringing the total number of panels in the chamber to advance the legislation so far this session to seven.

The Human Services Committee passed the measure from Sen. Lindsey Port (D) in a voice vote.

“This allows adults to safely and responsibly use cannabis,” Sen. Clare Oumou Verbeten (D), who presented the bill on behalf of Port, told committee members. “It creates a regulated marketplace that’s much safer than our current underground illicit marketplace.”

“Cannabis prohibition has caused immense harm in our communities, and that’s particularly when it comes to the criminal justice system,” she said. “Black Minnesotans and white Minnesotans consume cannabis at very similar rates, yet Black Minnesotans are five times more likely to be arrested for possessing cannabis. The expungement that we see in this bill is really important to me, because if we’re going to go forward with legalizing cannabis, we really have a responsibility to clear those records.”

With majorities in both the House and Senate and control over the governorship this session, Democratic-Farmer-Labor party officials are confident that legalization will be enacted in short order following the extensive committee consideration.

The governor recently released his biennial budget request, which included proposed funding to implement marijuana legalization and expungements, and made projections about the millions of dollars in cannabis tax revenue that his office estimates the state will earn after the reform is enacted.

Gov. Tim Walz (D) discussed his proposal in a recent interview, explaining why he’s calling for a tax rate on marijuana sales that’s nearly double that of the bill that’s advancing in the legislature.

That legislation is an iteration of the 2021 House-passed bill from former Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (D), who now serves as campaign chairman of the advocacy coalition MN is Ready. That group announced last month that it would be lobbying for the measure while leading a grassroots effort to build support for reform.

The governor has called on supporters to join lawmakers and the administration in their push legalize marijuana this session, and he circulated an email blast last month that encourages people to sign a petition backing the reform.

Much of the revised bills that are advancing through committee are consistent with Winkler’s legislation, though there are a few key changes, in addition to the newly adopted amendments. For example, it adds a new license category for businesses that sell “lower-potency edible products” under Minnesota’s unique THC law that the governor signed last year.

There would also be reduced regulatory requirements for those licensees, and they’d be able to permit on-site consumption if they have a liquor license, which is meant to ensure that shops currently selling low-THC beverages and edibles don’t face disruption.

At its Wednesday meeting, the Senate committee adopted several amendments.

One approved change adds a representative of the Local Public Health Association of Minnesota to the Cannabis Advisory Council, requires the health commissioner to collaborate with local health departments in forming a public awareness program about adverse health effects of marijuana for people under 25, directs the health commissioner to distribute grants to local and tribal health departments to support the dissemination of educational materials on cannabis use and adds appropriations provisions to fund such efforts.

Another adopted amendment changes references to pregnant and breastfeeding “women” in the bill to instead refer to “individuals,” as not everyone who can become pregnant identifies as a woman.

An additional change corrects a technical error in the bill concerning a Cannabis Advisory Council seat for a parent or caregiver of a medical cannabis patient.

Members also adopted a technical amendment to allow changes to the medical cannabis program concerning tribes that are being made by another bill to remain intact.

The next stop for the bill is the Senate Labor Committee on Thursday. On the House side, the Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee is scheduled to take up that chamber’s companion proposal on the same day.

Here are the main components of the revised marijuana legalization bills, HF 100 and SF 73:

Adults 21 and older could purchase up to two ounces of cannabis and cultivate up to eight plants, four of which could be mature.

They could possess up to two ounces in a public place and up to five pounds in a private dwelling.

Gifting up to two ounces of marijuana without remuneration between adults would be permitted.

It would promote social equity, in part by ensuring that diverse licensing by scoring equity applicants higher.

Prior marijuana records would also be automatically expunged. The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension would be responsible for identifying people who are eligible for relief and process the expungements.

In addition to creating a system of licensed cannabis businesses, municipalities and counties could own and operate government dispensaries.

On-site consumption permits could be approved for events, and cannabis delivery services would be permitted under the bill.

Unlike in many legal states, local municipalities would be banned from prohibiting marijuana businesses from operating in their areas, though they could set “reasonable” regulations on the time of operation and location of those businesses.

Retail cannabis sales would be taxed at eight percent. Part of that revenue would fund substance misuse treatment programs, as well as grants to support farmers.

A new Office of Cannabis Management would be established, and it would be responsible for regulating the market and issuing cannabis business licenses. There would be a designated Division of Social Equity.

People living in low-income neighborhoods and military veterans who lost honorable status due to a cannabis-related offense would be considered social equity applicants eligible for priority licensing.

The legislation as revised fixes an issue in current statute that prohibits liquor stores from selling THC products.

It also contains language banning synthetic cannabinoids, which is consistent with Board of Pharmacy rules put into place last year.

The House panels that have passed the legislation in recent weeks are the Health Finance and Policy CommitteeEducation Finance CommitteeHuman Services Policy CommitteeWorkforce Development Finance and Policy CommitteeAgriculture Finance and Policy CommitteeState and Local Government Finance and Policy CommitteeLabor and Industry Finance and Policy CommitteeEnvironment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy CommitteeJudiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee and Commerce Finance and Policy Committee.

The Senate committees that have signed off so far are the Health and Human Services CommitteeEnvironment, Climate, and Legacy CommitteeAgriculture, Broadband, and Rural Development CommitteeJobs and Economic Development CommitteeCommerce and Consumer Protection Committee and Judiciary and Public Safety Committee. (Full Story)

In categories:Legalization Politics
Tags:
Next Post

North Carolina Senate Passes Medical Cannabis Bill

The North Carolina Senate on Tuesday passed a medical cannabis legalization bill, WRAL reports. It marks the second year in a row the chamber has approved a medical cannabis bill; however, the measure died in the House in 2022. The bill received…
Read
Previous Post

Washington Senate Votes To Legalize Interstate Marijuana Commerce

The Washington State Senate approved a bill on Wednesday to eventually allow marijuana businesses to engage in interstate commerce. The measure, approved in a vote of 40-8, would give the governor the authority to enter into agreements with other legal states…
Read
Random Post

Money in the pot: Local cannabis businesses gear up for anticipated rush

Since last year, cannabis businesses in Frederick County have been hunkering down and preparing for a flood of people they expect will come through their doors on Saturday. July 1 marks the first day that cannabis will be legal recreationally…
Read
Random Post

Are Psychedelics the Fountain of Youth? - New Study Links Anti-Aging Effects with Psychedelics

Do psychedelics like mushrooms and LSD have anti-aging effects? Dr. Andrew Steele, a physics professor who has ventured into the field of biology, presents a fascinating perspective on longevity in his new book. He emphasizes that it's not cancer or…
Read
Random Post

Maryland Judge Imposes Injunction Against Ban On Intoxicating Hemp Products

A judge in Maryland on Thursday imposed a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of a state law that prohibited the sale of intoxicating hemp products, the Washington Post reports. The lawsuit against the rules was filed in July by the Maryland Hemp Coalition and…
Read
Random Post

Atlantic City: Claridge Hotel's Former Gambling Casino To Become New Jersey's First Cannabis Lounge

New Jersey's Casino Reinvestment Development Authority approved a proposal that would bring a 10,000-square-foot cannabis dispensary and lounge to Atlantic City's historic Claridge Hotel and former gambling casino where Marilyn Monroe once judged the Miss America Pageant.  The Claridge Hotel, which opened in 1930…
Read