MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Another bill was introduced Monday at the State Capitol in the effort to legalize recreational marijuana.
Ten states and the District of Columbia have already legalized recreational pot.
Monday morning, DFL Sen. Melisa Franzen of Edina and DFL Rep. Mike Freiberg of Golden Valley introduced a bill to legalize recreational cannabis.
Last week, a bill was introduced to let voters make the decision in a constitutional amendment during the 2020 election.
“Minnesota’s outdated prohibition policy has become more of a problem than a solution,” said Freiberg. “It is forcing marijuana into a shady underground market, which creates more potential than harm for consumers and communities than marijuana itself. Regulation marijuana would make our state safer by removing the criminal element and empowering out state and local governments to start controlling production and sales.”
Current usage rates and the market price of marijuana in Colorado suggests marijuana sales could generate between $200 million and $300 million per year in tax revenue for Minnesota.
“Our focus in drafting legislation to end the prohibition of cannabis in Minnesota is to ensure we have a responsible regulatory model for consumer access that still provides for public health, safety and welfare,” Franzen said. “The time has come for us to have this debate.”
Senate Republicans who oppose the bill responded by saying recreational marijuana is not a “priority issue,” and legal pot leads to impaired driving.
“Senate Republicans are focused on reducing health care costs, supporting mental health care and passing a balanced budget,” Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka of Nisswa said. “Legalizing recreational marijuana is a controversial issue, to say the least, and not something I would consider a priority issue.”
Republican Sen. Scott Newman of Hutchinson reiterated Gazelka’s point, adding, “It’s impossible to keep impaired people off the roads when they’re high … I will only consider it after law enforcement supports it.”
Gov. Tim Walz has said that if a bill came across his desk to legalize recreational marijuana, he would sign it into law.