Minnesota House Majority Leader to Introduce Legalization Bill

The top Democrat in Minnesota’s House of Representatives has announced plans to introduce legislation legalizing adult-use cannabis later this year.

Full story after the jump.

Minnesota House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (D) plans to introduce recreational cannabis legalization legislation early in this year’s session. The announcement follows a 15-city Be Heard Cannabis Tour in the state, during which Winkler said residents were “united” in their beliefs that the state’s current cannabis laws “don’t work.”

“The cannabis legal system we have today is a failure and the message is we need to figure out how to move on from that.” – Winkler, during a February 4 press conference

During his remarks, Winkler outlined the “principles” of the legalization proposal, including taxation and regulations, criminal justice, public health, and economic development. Winkler added that the bill, which has yet to be drafted, would include social equity provisions.

According to a Bring Me the News report, Gov. Tim Walz (D) has previously expressed support for the reforms and indicated he would sign a broad legalization bill; however, the state Senate is controlled by Republicans and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka told Minnesota Public Radio last year that lawmakers should “be slow” on the issue and that cannabis use leads to “mental health problems, driving accidents, and impaired teen brain development.”

Last session, a Senate panel rejected a legalization measure and Gazelka told MPR that he didn’t expect the chamber to take up a legalization bill during this year’s session.

Winkler told reporters on Tuesday that Galzeka has been “unequivocal” in his opposition and admitted that it was “highly likely” that reforms could take “more than one year to get it done.”

The Marijuana Policy Group last year estimated legal cannabis sales in Minnesota could bring in $300 million over five years on sales of $1.2 billion.

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