Historic Minnesota Marijuana Bill Signed Into Law
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed a bill Tuesday that legalizes recreational marijuana for people 21 and older. Minnesota becomes the 23rd state to legalize adult-use cannabis.
“What we know right now is prohibition does not work,” said Walz at a press conference Tuesday to sign the bill. “We have a situation where buying cannabis on the streets is dangerous.”
Under the 300-plus page bill signed into law, a new Office of Cannabis Management will be created to regulate marijuana and hemp businesses.
The legalization debate in Minnesota lasted months and involved more than two dozen committee hearings. Former Governor Jesse Ventura provided testimony during the hearings, saying he broke state law to help his wife, Terry, by providing her with medical cannabis to address her chronic seizures. Ventura attended Tuesday’s press conference.
“It’s very wonderful to see a dream of yours over 20 years ago finally happen today and I’m still alive to see it,” said Ventura.
Ventura was asked what changed over the more than 20 years when he first began pushing for legalization.
“I think it was probably a case of education, of people becoming educated more and not listening to and watching performances like ‘Reefer Madness’ on TV,” said Ventura.
The former governor also addressed concerns about impaired driving.
“Impaired drivers are out there right now. It isn’t going to make any difference one way or the other,” said Ventura. “Certainly you should not drive under the influence of anything.”
Minnesota Marijuana Legalization: What’s Inside the Bill
Under the legislation, the Office of Cannabis Management will be in charge of regulating marijuana and hemp businesses. It’s expected to take 12 to 18 months before Minnesota sees retail sales of marijuana-derived products.
The law will allow Minnesotans to grow up to eight cannabis plants in their home starting Aug. 1. However, no more than four cannabis plants can be mature and flowering at a time. It also is no longer a crime to possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis in public or up to 2 pounds inside your home.
In addition, the law requires the state to start expunging misdemeanor marijuana convictions. Governor Walz called that “a really important piece” of the bill.
Walz mentioned how marijuana convictions kept residents, particularly persons of color, from being licensed in a variety of careers, whether it was becoming a nurse, teacher or police officer. He also said the expungement process will take time.
“We’ve got 50 years of folks we’ve been arresting and getting records on them,” said Walz. “It’s not going to unwind immediately.”
The governor said his administration has been working on the regulation aspect of the bill since 2019 after studying what other states have done, specifically mentioning Vermont and Colorado.
“I assure Minnesotans that a lot of thought has gone into this, a lot of the things learned in other states are incorporated into how we do this and the thought around this legislation gives us a really good guiding principle,” he said.