MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota House Democrats advanced multiple bills Tuesday, and they created a Cannabis Task Force to study legalization, taxation and sale of marijuana.
Public opinion polls show at least six out of 10 Minnesotans support legalizing marijuana, and some lawmakers call current pot laws unfair and unnecessary.
“It’s absolutely clear to me and to many other Minnesotans that criminal prohibition on the use of cannabis has failed,” said Rep. Rita Moran, (DFL) St. Paul.
The Minnesota Legislature is considering legalizing marijuana, but it’s not likely this year. Instead, there is a push the task force to study how other marijuana states like Colorado and California are handling unintended consequences.
“If you’re going to do anything big, then know what you are doing,” said Public Safety Committee Chair Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL).
Lawmakers are moving ahead with a bill to decriminalize marijuana, lowering penalties for possessing or selling pot. There are hoping to reverse decades of racial disparity for drug crimes in prison.
“I think go a long ways in undoing a lot of the harm that’s been done over the past 30 to 40 years in the War on Drugs,” said Rep. Ray Dehn, (DFL) Minneapolis.
Among the biggest questions is how to test drivers who may be high. There is no reliable test for law enforcement officers, who are required to arrest drivers with any level of pot in their blood.
“If it comes back from the lab that there’s THC in the blood, that’s deemed enough of a level, of a presence to deem them guilty of driving while intoxicated,” said Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie.
Lawmakers are also looking at loosening medical cannabis laws, including expanding the number of dispensaries, and streamlining the process so veterans can get the medication.