Minnesota Senate Passes Historic Recreational Marijuana Bill
The Minnesota Senate approved a recreational marijuana bill on Friday, taking a significant step towards legalizing marijuana in the state.
The Senate passed the bill in a narrow 34-33 vote along party lines.
The decision came on the heels of the Minnesota House of Representatives approving its recreational marijuana bill earlier this week.
Legislators will now attempt to hammer out the differences between the two bills in a conference committee before sending a final version to the desk of Gov. Tim Walz.
Senate Republican opposition to the bill
Senate Republican leadership spoke against the proposal in a Friday morning press conference, calling it “premature” and “convoluted.”
“So I think Nancy Pelosi had that quote a few years ago, ‘we’re going to pass this bill and then figure out what’s in it,'” said Sen. Mark Johnson, minority leader of the Senate. “So, what we keep hearing is over the next 18 months, there’s going to be rule-making involved to try to figure out how they’re going to fix the mistakes that are in the bill and how to make it workable. And we’ve heard that over and over again over the last, you know, almost session here.”
Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, said that law enforcement agencies do not have clear standards to test drivers for marijuana intoxication. Traffic deaths have increased after other states have legalized recreational marijuana, she said.
The bill also raises questions related to addiction and local control, Nelson said.
“All we can see, all I can see is unmet needs,” Nelson said. “This bill is premature. We’ve lined out just public safety, public health needs and our local enforcement needs are not being met. And all we have to do is look at other states and look at how this is played out, and it has not been a pretty picture.”
Johnson said the bill gives too much power to unelected officials in the Office of Cannabis Management while stripping regulatory powers away from local governments.
“This bill is a bit of a trainwreck,” Johnson said.
Democrats in the northwest suburbs have indicated support for the legislation.