Minnesota Democrats are making the case for legalizing adult-use cannabis and expunging low-level cannabis crimes in the state, the Associated Press reports.
“The issue of legalizing cannabis, creating a fair, regulated marketplace, addressing the deep inequities in our criminal justice system, is a mainstream, bipartisan, broadly supported issue,” Democratic House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler said in a news conference earlier this week.
Joining other Mid-West states like South Dakota, Michigan, and Illinois, Minnesota would become the 16th state to embrace adult-use cannabis — but Democrats continue to face opposition from Republicans.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka summed up GOP concerns: “We are focused on the Minnesota Priorities that balance the budget without raising taxes, safely reopen schools and businesses to recover our economy, and support families. I would not consider legalizing recreational marijuana as a Minnesota priority.”
Democratic Gov. Tim Winkler, who introduced an adult use cannabis bill last year ahead of the COVID-19 crisis, supports the push and has traveled around the state building momentum for adult-use cannabis for the past year and a half, the AP reports.
Other Democrats, like Rep. Rena Moran, say legalizing adult-use cannabis is key to breaking down systemic racism in Minnesota.
“Nowhere is the harm of the failed criminal prohibition felt more than for Black, Indigenous and people of color, which continue to experience outrageous disparities regarding enforcement of our current marijuana laws. Black Minnesotans are over five times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than those who are white. This is one of the worst disparities in the nation, and true even though both groups use it at similar rates.” — Rep. Moran, in a statement
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