Seventh Minnesota Senate Committee Approves Bill to Legalize Marijuana

The Senate Human Services Committee in Minnesota has given approval to a measure that would legalize recreational marijuana for everyone 21 and older.

The measure (SF 73) has now been passed by seven Senate committees. A companion bill (HF 100) has been approved by 10 committees in the House of Representatives. The proposed legislation would allow those 21 and older to possess up to two ounces of marijuana and grow up to eight plants for personal use, in addition to establishing a regulatory framework for licensed retail marijuana outlets.

“This allows adults to safely and responsibly use cannabis,” said Senator Clare Oumou Verbeten, who spoke to the committee on behalf of the bill’s sponsor Senator Lindsey Port. “It creates a regulated marketplace that’s much safer than our current underground illicit marketplace.” She said that marijuana prohibition “has caused immense harm in our communities, and that’s particularly when it comes to the criminal justice system”.

Senator Verbeten noted that “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.”

State Representative Zack Stephenson, the bill’s sponsor in the House, says that “Minnesotans deserve the freedom and respect to make their own decisions about cannabis—and this bill is about providing them with that opportunity.” Stephenson says “It’s time. Minnesotans are ready, Our current laws related to cannabis are doing more harm than good.”

The measure would establish a state Cannabis Management Office to oversee the legal marijuana market. The measure would establish an 8% marijuana excise tax, which would be added to the state’s standard 6.8% sales tax.

The proposal has now been passed by the following committees in the House and Senate:

  • House Health Finance and Policy Committee
  • House Education Finance Committee
  • House Human Services Policy Committee
  • House Workforce and Business Development Finance and Policy Committee
  • House Agriculture Finance and Policy Committee
  • House Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee
  • House Commerce, Finance and Policy Committee
  • House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee
  • House Labor and Industry Finance and Policy Committee
  • House State and Local Government Finance and Policy Committee
  • Senate Human Services Committee
  • Senate Transportation Committee
  • Senate Environment, Climate, and Legacy
  • Senate Agriculture, Broadband, and Rural Development Committee
  • Senate Jobs and Economic Development Committee
  • Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee
  • Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee

In order to receive a vote by the full Senate, it will need to be passed by 11 more committees. However, in the House the measure needs just four more committee votes to be considered by their full chamber.

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