Minnesota House Plans Vote to Legalize Recreational Marijuana
With Minnesota edging closer to legalizing recreational marijuana, legislators for and against the bill made their voices heard ahead of a full House vote on Monday.
“Today is a big day because we are now at the five-yard line in terms of getting to legal cannabis in the state of Minnesota,” said Rep. Zack Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids. “And I expect that in a short order, the Senate’s going to pass a bill too. And before the end of the session, we’re going to have final passage. So this is a historic day for Minnesotans who have been waiting for cannabis legalization for many, many years. We’re going to get the job done this year.”
If passed, the legislation would establish an Office of Cannabis Management that regulates the marketplace of recreational marijuana. Supporters say the office would address concerns around youth access, public health and road safety.
Republican opponents, meanwhile, argue that the legislation is flawed.
During a news conference before the House vote, they criticized the fact that cities wouldn’t be able to regulate the number of licenses in their jurisdiction, they raised concerns about impaired drivers and the ability of law enforcement to deal with them, and they spoke about marijuana’s impact on young people.
Rep. Kristin Robbins, R-Maple Grove, said she would like to see the legal age to buy marijuana be raised to 25.
“Young people are at severe risk as their brains are developing if they start using marijuana,” Robbins said. “And there are a lot of academic studies that show that there are increases of anxiety, depression, psychosis and a syndrome called cannabis hyperemesis syndrome which causes people to throw up violently.”
The Senate would still need to approve its own version of the bill. If that happens, the differences would be worked out in a conference committee.
If passed, it would likely take upwards of a year for the regulation, rule-making and licensing process to take shape before Minnesotans will see marijuana dispensaries start popping up.
Related: Golden Valley Considers Impact of Marijuana Legalization
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