MPR News host Angela Davis talks about the future of marijuana legalization in Minnesota, what Minnesota can learn from other states, and how marijuana legalization is influencing policy. Although marijuana remains a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act and is therefore subject to strict federal control, there have been regular attempts in Congress over the years to change that designation. Thus, in December 2020, the MORE Act of 2020 was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, but was not put to a vote in the U.S. Senate. Faircloth, Ryan. “Scattered by the emerging industry, Minnesota regulators are calling for the creation of a state cannabis office: it would oversee medical cannabis, CBD, and possibly recreational cannabis.” Star Tribune, February 29, 2020. South Dakota residents, including a significant number of Republicans, voted to legalize marijuana possession in 2020, but that law was struck down by the state Supreme Court in part because the proposal was associated with medical marijuana and hemp. This year, the recreational pot was alone on the ballot when it was defeated. Walz has long been a proponent of legalizing adult-use recreational marijuana.
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed a legalization bill during the 2021 session in which several Republicans voted yes, but the GOP-controlled Senate never voted for it. As of May 2022, the District of Columbia and 19 states – Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington – have legalized cannabis for specific recreational purposes. (South Dakota approved a measure to legalize recreational marijuana in 2020; the South Dakota Supreme Court declared the measure unconstitutional in November 2021.) In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational cannabis. Most states that have legalized recreational marijuana have done so through an election initiative. In 2018, Vermont became the first state to legalize cannabis through the legislative process. Regulations vary from state to state, with some states like Washington and Colorado taxing marijuana and setting up retail environments, and other states like Vermont simply allowing residents to grow and possess marijuana in certain amounts, but not sell it. In an interview with WCCO Radio on Friday, Walz confirmed the conversation, hinting that Ventura would be invited to the signing ceremony, as Ventura was one of the first governors in the country to support legalization. A 2020 report from the ACLU Minnesota shows that the state ranks eighth in the largest racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests. The analysis also found that blacks in the state are 5.4 times more likely to be arrested than whites in Minnesota. In August 2019, Governor Tim Walz announced that he had asked state authorities to prepare to implement policies related to the legalization of cannabis.
Several bills were introduced during the 2019-2020 session that would legalize or otherwise amend the laws surrounding the possession and use of cannabis in Minnesota, including a proposal to establish a cannabis task force to examine legalization issues in more detail (see HF717). While the issue sparked much debate, none of the bills to legalize recreational marijuana were passed during the 2019-2020 session. The discussion continued in the 2021-2022 session, when bills to legalize recreational marijuana (e.g., HF600) were reintroduced. FOX9 Minnesota House of Representatives Democrats push for marijuana legalization — Again A September poll by MPR News, The Star Tribune and KARE11 found that a slim majority of Minnesotans support legalizing recreational marijuana. And DFL Gov. Tim Walz, who is running for re-election, has said he supports legalization. Outrageously, however, the Republican majority in the Minnesota Senate refused to grant the bill (HF 600) or its Senate companion, even a committee hearing or vote — both in 2021 and when the bill was deferred to 2022. Every Republican senator voted against a motion to give a vote to the Senate bill. The legislature adjourned and the legalization laws died for the year. Faircloth, Ryan.
New federal rules could jeopardize Minnesota`s thriving hemp industry, GA officials warn: Minnesota GA officials call preliminary USDA standards “impractical” for growers.” Star Tribune, January 10, 2020. Alder, Jonathan. Marijuana Federalism: Uncle Sam and Mary Jane. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2020. (HV5825. M354 2020) Simms, Nicole. Collateral costs: racial differences and injustice in Minnesota`s marijuana laws. St. Paul: Minnesota 2020, 2014. (HV5822. M3 S56 2014) Legalization would create tens of thousands of much-needed jobs and hundreds of millions in tax revenue, and reduce unnecessary stops, searches and arrests that unfairly and unevenly target Black people in Minnesota. A 2020 ACLU report shows that Minnesota has the eighth-worst racial disparity in the country, with blacks being arrested 5.4 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than whites, despite nearly identical rates of use.
Smith, Mary Lynn. “Minnesota health officials approve the use of [medical] cannabis for sickle cell anemia and chronic vocal or motor disorders.” Star Tribune, December 1, 2020. One of the 2019 laws created the Task Force on the Sale of Certain Cannabinoid Products and asked it to investigate the matter and report back to lawmakers in January 2020. Another recently passed law directed the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, in consultation with the Departments of Public Safety and Health, to develop a framework to regulate the possession and use of THC resulting from the processing of industrial hemp, including, but not limited to, the extraction of CBD or other components. This report was also submitted to the legislator in January 2020. Done, Natalie and Mona Zhang. “One in three Americans now lives in a state where recreational marijuana is legal.” Politico, Nov. 4, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — WDIO DFL members reintroduce cannabis legalization bill Bring me the news Here`s what`s in DFL Busche, Kelly`s recreational marijuana legalization bill. “The state is bringing in four new [medical] cannabis dispensaries.” Finance and Trade, 17 November 2020. Ventura, who supported legalization when he served from 1999 to 2003, announced on his podcast earlier this week that Walz called him the day after his re-election and said he now expects that to happen.
Ventura, an independent who generally has no support, supported Walz against Republican Scott Jensen. The Star Tribune recreational marijuana bill is back at the Minnesota Capitol Callaghan, Peter. “Equality, Taxes and Criminal Justice: Minnesota`s recent attempt to legalize recreational marijuana is more than the legalization of marijuana.” MinnPost, February 5, 2021. Stassen-Berger, Rachel. “Minnesota`s medical cannabis program will include PTSD patients.” St. Paul Pioneer Press, July 5, 2017.