Minnesota Governor Demands Legalizing Recreational Cannabis, Senate Hesitant
Last week, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz made it abundantly clear that he is all for legalizing recreational cannabis. Despite the cries of Walz and multiple Minnesotans, the state Senate isn’t likely to budge. Here’s what we know.
Current cannabis statues in Minnesota
As of 2021, the state of Minnesota allows medical access to cannabis for its residents. Although Minnesota has not implemented recreational access to cannabis, the Land of 10,000 Lakes has decriminalized possession of cannabis. More specifically, a person who possesses less than 42.5 grams (or 1 ½ ounces) is subject to receiving a $200 fine. Those who are found guilty of possessing 1 ½ ounces are subject to be charged with a felony and may face upwards to 10 years in prison and restitution up to $10,000. Possession of more cannabis than the aforementioned amounts are subjected to harsher prison sentences and fines up to a whopping $250,000.
Governor Tim Walz pushes for recreational cannabis
The Governor of the Gopher State, Tim Walz recently has expressed his interest in providing access to recreational cannabis for Minnesotans. A bill suggesting the recreational legalization of cannabis was presented in the Land of 10,000 Lakes in 2019 but was shot down by the Minnesota Senate. Politically referred to as HF 4632, the bill outlined a comprehensive regulatory framework for adult-use cannabis. However, the bill in support of recreational cannabis failed to be heard before the legislative session ended in May of 2020, thanks to COVID-19 restrictions.
House wants weed, Senate continues pushback
Although Gov. Walz appears to be pressing the Minnesota Senate regarding legalizing recreational cannabis, they are not expressing urgency nor concern regarding the matter. Walz stated that the benefits of access to recreational cannabis stretch beyond increased revenue for the state but will also help address the tainted sociopolitical climate surrounding cannabis, citing “the racial impact of cannabis laws.” House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler expressed similar interest as Gov. Walz, stating he would align with an adult-use bill. However, the Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka made it clear that he would do everything in his power to resist such a bill.
Examining medical cannabis in Minnesota
In 2014, the Minnesota legislature passed SF 2470. This bill authorized the Minnesota Department of Health, or MDH, to supervise its medical cannabis program. Furthermore, SF 2470 enabled qualifying patients with particular medical conditions to access medical cannabis products in a variety of forms ranging from dry to liquid cannabis.
Could the MORE Act impact cannabis in Minnesota?
Minnesota is not the only state looking to revamp cannabis statutes. In 2021, the entire nation is looking to the same with the help of an act yet to be heard in the US Senate. The MORE Act had been trying to get enough traction in Congress to be heard on the house floor for quite some time. Politically referred to as H.R. 3884, the MORE Act was drafted and sponsored by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY.) The MORE Act would eventually find bipartisan support of over 120 cosponsors. Summarily, the MORE Act can decriminalize cannabis on a federal level once and for all. Furthermore, the MORE Act would remove cannabis from the list of scheduled I controlled substances. This would allow cannabis to be studied on a federal level. Theoretically, the passing of the MORE Act may sway state Senates like Minnesota just enough to get the bill heard and even over the hump. Look to find out about the revamping of Minnesota’s cannabis laws in 2021 one way or another.