Minnesota House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler introduced a bill on Tuesday that would legalize adult use cannabis. State lawmakers passed a medical cannabis bill in 2014.
The bill, HF 4632, would legalize and tax cannabis sales, and establish the Cannabis Management Board to regulate licensing, inspection, and testing of cannabis products. The regulatory scheme would be “focused on developing micro-businesses and a craft market,” according to Winkler. Cannabis-related convictions would be expunged.
Unlike cannabis legalization bills recently proposed in some other states, like New York, Minnesota residents would be allowed to grow cannabis in their homes. The bill would establish grant, loan, and training programs for small businesses, and would also require that cannabis business licensees enter into a labor peace agreement with a labor organization.
The legislation would allocate tax revenue from cannabis sales toward education campaigns on preventing youth use, treatment for dependence, and public health.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has derailed and delayed legalization efforts from New York to Connecticut, and globally from Mexico to the Caribbean, Winkler said that, after “months of public discussions” during which residents brought up their hopes and concerns about cannabis policy, it’s time to consider legalization.
“We made a commitment to introduce legislation this session, and we wanted to follow through on that commitment,” Winkler said in a statement. “Our current priority is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, but after the town halls and discussions around this issue, we still wanted to put a strong bill forward. As we look to come out of this crisis as a better, stronger Minnesota, we need to continue working toward legalizing cannabis for responsible adult use.”
The ACLU recently released a comprehensive report that found that, while cannabis-related arrests have fallen in some areas since states have increasingly moved toward decriminalization and legalization, overall, racial disparities still persist.
“Minnesotans have been loud and clear that our current cannabis laws are doing more harm than good,” Winkler said in a statement. “By creating a regulatory framework we can address the harms caused by cannabis and establish a more sensible set of laws to improve our health care and criminal justice systems and ensure better outcomes for communities.”