MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Minnesota Senate committee has defeated a bill to legalize recreational marijuana in Minnesota, effectively killing the legislation for the year.

Republicans in Monday’s Senate committee said the state is not ready for the legalization of recreational marijuana.

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A capacity crowd showed up for the State Capitol debate, the first time state lawmakers have had a vote on legalizing recreational pot. Supporters say they are trying to start a statewide discussion.

Democratic Sen. Melisa Franzen argued the state is better off controlling the already widespread illegal use of pot.

“Rarely as a legislature do we have the ability to have a win-win scenario, to tax a product that consumers say should be taxed, and to regulate it, to make it safer for consumers,” Sen. Franzen said.

The bill would decriminalize marijuana, then legalize it, regulate it and tax its commercial sale.

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Supporters call the use of marijuana safe.

“I come to you as a proud Minnesotan and a medical professional, asking that you abandon the fear and the ignorance associated with cannabis prohibition and help us all into a better future for the state of Minnesota,” said Dr. Carter Casmaer, of Minneapolis.

But opponents of legal pot called it a “gateway drug.” Law enforcement officers testified it has dangerous consequences, especially on Minnesota roads.

One Rochester mother told the story of her son, Austin, who died walking across the street by a driver who was drunk and high.

“I want to hear his voice, and I want to hear his laughter. And everything about Austin is gone,” Sandy Melville said.

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The bill was defeated 6-3 on a strict party-line vote, with Republicans voting no and Democrats voting yes.