MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In the coming weeks and months, expect to hear a lot about the possibility of legalizing recreational marijuana in Minnesota.

The legalization push has a powerful new advocate who will be introducing the bill when the next legislative session gets underway in February.

Behind the scenes, supporters of legalizing recreational marijuana have been working hard, holding listening sessions around the state, and meeting with officials from Colorado, which legalized cannabis in 2014.

Leading the push in the legislature this year is the Democratic House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler of Golden Valley. Winkler says it’s about popular support. He cites polls saying more than 60% of Minnesotans support legalization.

It would also provide a source of revenue for the state, by one estimate $300 million tax in a year.

House Majority leader Ryan Winkler was a guest on WCCO Sunday Morning.

“We are going to pass it at some point in time. This is a change that is coming whether Minnesota is ready for it or not,” Winkler said. “What we’re trying to do is create a bill based on a set of public policy principles that will be ready for passage in this legislative session.”

Before marijuana becomes legal in the state, it would have to pass the legislature, and be signed into law by the governor.

It is possible the measure could pass the Democratic house, and Gov. Tim Walz has said he would sign it. But it’s not clear at all if it would pass in the Republican-controlled Senate. Either way, it will definitely be a major campaign issue.

All 201 members of the House and Senate are up for reelection this November.

Esme Murphy

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