Senate Committee Approves Advancement of Minnesota’s Marijuana Legalization Bill
A Key Committee of Minnesota Senators Has Moved Forward with A Bill to Legalize Marijuana. This Is the Latest Committee to Look at The Change on Its Long Legislative Journey.
In January, Sen. Lindsey Port’s (D) bill was first looked at by the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, which took testimony on the bill as it was introduced. On Friday, members talked about it again. They agreed to a number of changes and voted to send it to the next committee without a recommendation.
The Senate measure has now been approved by all 10 committees, and Rep. Zack Stephenson’s (D) companion bill in the House has been approved by 13 committees so far.
“Cannabis prohibition is a failed system that hasn’t helped us reach our goals and has cost our communities, especially communities of color, a lot of money,” Port said on Friday. “We have a chance to undo some of the damage that has been done and make a system of regulations that works for Minnesota consumers and businesses. We can also make sure that communities that have been hurt the most by prohibition have a chance in this new market.”
“Our main goals are to make it legal, regulate it, and get rid of it,” she said. “We are working to make sure this bill does all of those things.”
Both versions have been changed many times over the course of this process. On Tuesday, a Senate committee adopted a comprehensive substitute from the bill’s sponsor that is mainly meant to address concerns from industry stakeholders who are working under a cannabis law that was passed last year and made low-THC edibles legal in the state.
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The change would, among other things, add two new types of licenses, change how licenses are applied for and transferred, give cities and counties more control over regulations, and clean up the language by combining sections that were once separate.
Stephenson said that his other book will get a similar makeover when it goes to the next committee meeting.
With majorities in both the House and the Senate and control of the governorship this session, Democratic-Farmer-Labor party officials are confident that legalization will be passed soon after the lengthy committee discussion.
Gov. Tim Walz (D) recently released his proposed budget for the next two years. It included money to pay for legalizing and expunging marijuana convictions, as well as projections about how much money the state will make from cannabis taxes after the reform is passed.
In a recent interview, Walz talked about his plan and explained why he wants a tax rate on marijuana sales that is almost double that of the bill moving through the legislature.
This bill is a new version of a bill that the House passed in 2021. It was written by former Democratic Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, who now works as the campaign chairman for the advocacy group MN is Ready.
The governor has asked supporters to join lawmakers and the administration in their efforts to legalize marijuana this session. In January, he sent out an email blast encouraging people to sign a petition in support of the change.
Most of the revised bills that are moving through the committee are similar to Winkler’s bill, but there are a few key differences and all of the new changes that have been approved. For example, businesses that sell “lower-potency edible products” will need a new type of license.
There would also be less regulation for these licensees, and if they have a liquor license, they would be able to allow on-site consumption. This is to make sure that shops that already sell low-THC drinks and edibles don’t have to change.
But during the committee process, people in the industry have been pushing for more changes to the law so that businesses that started after the law was passed in 2022 aren’t hurt too much.
During the Senate hearing, several changes to the bill were approved by the panel.
The law’s expungement provisions are changed in a number of ways. It moves the start date of those parts of the bill from August 1, 2023, to January 1, 2025. It also makes technical changes to the language about background checks for people who want to open a marijuana business and for people who want to work for a marijuana business.
The change, which has been changed even more by amendments to the amendment, also includes provisions that make it clear that people whose records are expunged will get their gun rights back, that people with problems with their immigration status can get access to their expungement records, and that prosecutors will be notified of expungements.
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People can have up to five pounds of marijuana at home if they grew it themselves, but they can only have two pounds if they didn’t grow it themselves. Separately passed amendments make it clear which data from marijuana businesses and license applicants is public and which is private; make technical changes to driving while under the influence of hemp products; fix drafting errors in parts of the law that deal with lower potency hemp-derived products; and make it clear that being a medic doesn’t mean you can have more than two pounds
Another successful change lets people who are “injured or whose personal enjoyment is lessened by” “nuisance” marijuana activity file civil claims for actual damages or civil penalties.
The Senate Rules Committee is the next stop for the bill. The House version is going back to the Commerce Finance and Policy Committee, which was in charge of the measure earlier this year and is led by the bill’s sponsor.
Here Are the Most Important Parts of The New Versions of Hf 100 and Sf 73, Which Are Bills to Legalize Marijuana
- Adults over the age of 21 could buy up to 2 ounces of cannabis and grow up to 8 plants, of which 4 could be fully grown.
- In public, they could have up to two ounces, and at home, they could have up to five pounds.
- Adults could give each other up to two ounces of marijuana without getting anything in return.
- It would promote social equity by, for example, making sure that licenses are given to people from different backgrounds by giving equity applicants a higher score.
- Records of using marijuana in the past would also be erased automatically. The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension would be in charge of finding people who qualify for relief and getting their records wiped clean.
- In addition to setting up a system of licensed cannabis businesses, cities and counties could own and run government dispensaries.
- Under the bill, events could get permission to use cannabis on-site, and cannabis delivery services could be set up.
- In contrast to many legal states, local governments would not be able to stop marijuana businesses from opening in their areas. However, they could set “reasonable” rules about when and where these businesses could open and close.
- A tax of 8% would be put on cannabis sold in stores. Part of this money would go to programs to help people who abuse drugs and grants to help farmers.
- There would be a new Office of Cannabis Management that would be in charge of regulating the market and giving out business licenses for cannabis businesses. A Division of Social Equity would be set up.
- People who live in low-income areas and veterans who lost their honorable status because of a cannabis-related crime would be considered social equity applicants who could get a license first.
- The new version of the bill fixes a problem with the current law that says liquor stores can’t sell THC products.
- It also says that synthetic cannabinoids are illegal, which is the same as what the Board of Pharmacy said last year.