A bill to legalize marijuana led by House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) has cleared the Minnesota House of Representatives.
Legislators voted 72-61 to legalize cannabis for adult use. The bill would also expunge records for people convicted of nonviolent offenses involving cannabis, according to supporters.
“The Minnesota House made history today because we listened to and worked with people of all backgrounds over the course of years to bring forward the best cannabis legalization bill in the nation,” Winkler said. “The war on drugs is a failed policy. The harms caused by current cannabis laws cannot be allowed to continue. Minnesota’s illegal cannabis market creates bad outcomes for everyone. Responsible regulations and safeguards to prevent youth access are a better solution to address the harms our current laws fail to address.”
Despite passage in the Minnesota House, the idea has run into opposition in the Minnesota Senate, which would need to approve the bill before it could be signed by Gov. Tim Walz. The governor has expressed support for the bill. The Senate did not conduct a hearing on the bill this year.
“Our current cannabis laws aren’t working for Minnesota,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park). “Criminalizing a product that most people think should be available and continuing a legacy of racial injustice is simply not defensible. This smart, sensible legislation addresses racial inequities in our criminal justice system, mitigates any risks posed by legalizing adult use of cannabis, and ensures better outcomes for communities.”
The bill received approval in 12 House committees before the full chamber voted on the legislation.
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