Minnesota Senate passes bill to legalize recreational marijuana
The Minnesota Senate passed a measure to legalize recreational marijuana in the state for adults ages 21 and older.
The measure, approved early Saturday morning, will now head to Democrat Gov. Tim Walz’s desk for signature. He is expected to sign the bill into law.
Starting August 1, the bill would allow people 21 and older to carry up to 2 ounces of marijuana in public and possess up to 2 pounds at home. These adults could also grow home plants. But possessing more than those limits or selling the product without a state license could result in criminal penalties and civil fines.
The bill does not allow people to smoke marijuana in public places. Adults may only use a personal residence, private property where the owner has granted permission and a place licensed for on-site consumption.
Minnesota would become the 23rd state, plus Washington, D.C., to legalize recreational marijuana.
The legislation was approved by the state Senate in a party-line vote, with all Democrats voting in favor. The state House passed the bill Thursday night with five Republicans joining all but one Democrat in approving the measure.
‘We can get rid of the illicit market and one of the strongest tools we have to do that is to not allow for areas of prohibition to continue to exist in our state,’ state Sen. Lindsey Port, who authored the bill, told CBS News Minnesota. ‘The war on drugs has had devastating harmful effects on our communities.’
The House had approved the bill in recent years, but the effort was stalled by a Republican-led Senate. That changed this year when Democrats took control of the chamber.
The bill would also automatically expunge low-level cannabis convictions and set up a board to consider expungement or resentencing of felony crimes.
‘Starting right away, we will begin the process of expunging tens of thousands of cannabis convictions,’ House bill sponsor Rep. Zack Stephenson said on Twitter. ‘But it took 50 years to create all those convictions, and it will take months, even years, to complete this process.’
Newly regulated dispensaries, once operational, will be permitted for cultivation, manufacturing and lawful sale of cannabis products, depending on the licenses they are approved for. There will be a 10% gross receipts tax on the products, in addition to existing local and state general sales taxes.
Stephenson said in his tweet that he expects it to take up to 18 months before licensed dispensaries would be available to shop in as a new state agency works to set up the legal market.