Minnesota Senate passes bill to legalize recreational marijuana
The Minnesota Senate has passed a measure to legalize recreational marijuana in the state for adults 21 and older.
The measure, approved early Saturday morning, will now head to Democratic Gov. Tim Walz’s office for signing. He should sign the bill.
Starting Aug. 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 houseplants. But owning more than these limits or selling the product without a state license could result in criminal penalties and civil fines.
The bill prohibits people from smoking marijuana in public places. Adults may only use a personal residence, private property where the owner has granted permission, and an authorized location for on-site consumption.
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Minnesota would become the 23rd state, plus Washington, DC, to legalize recreational marijuana.
The legislation was approved by the state Senate in a party vote, with all Democrats voting in favour. The State House passed the bill Thursday night with five Republicans joining all but one Democrat in endorsing the measure.
“We can get rid of the illicit market and one of the most powerful tools we have to do that is to not allow no-go zones to continue to exist in our state,” said Senator Lindsey Port, author of the bill, to CBS. Minnesota News. “The War on Drugs has had devastating adverse effects on our communities.”
The House had approved the bill in recent years, but the effort was blocked by a Republican-led Senate. That changed this year when Democrats took control of the chamber.
The bill would also automatically erase low-level cannabis convictions and create a board to consider expungement or re-conviction of criminal crimes.
“Starting now, we will begin the process of expunging tens of thousands of cannabis convictions,” Rep. Zack Stephenson, the bill’s sponsor, said on Twitter. “But it took 50 years to create all of these convictions, and it will take months, if not years, to complete this process.”
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The newly regulated dispensaries, once operational, will be licensed for the legal cultivation, manufacture and sale of cannabis products, depending on the licenses for which they are approved. There will be a 10% gross receipts tax on products, in addition to existing local and national general sales taxes.
Stephenson said in his tweet that he expects it will take up to 18 months before licensed dispensaries are available to shop as a new state agency works to set up of the legal market.