Ken Lund

Minnesota House Passes Legalization, GOP Senate Leader Says It’s ‘Up in Smoke’

Lawmakers in the Minnesota House advanced the chamber’s cannabis legalization bill but Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R) said that the legislation is already “up in smoke” in the Senate.

Full story after the jump.

The Minnesota House on Thursday approved a measure to legalize cannabis for adult use; however the Republican-controlled Senate has no plans to take up the proposal before the session ends on Monday, MPR News reports. The lower chamber approved the bill 72-61.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R) told WCCO that the legislation is “up in smoke” in the Senate.

“Making legalized pot for fun, we just don’t think that’s a good idea,” he said in the report.

House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, the bill’s author, said prior to the vote that cannabis prohibition has “failed Minnesotans, and it’s time for it to change.” The measure included automatic expungement provisions for cannabis-related misdemeanors.

“We have this bill before us today because Minnesotans have decided that it is time to legalize cannabis and right the wrongs of the criminal prohibition of cannabis that has failed Minnesota.” – Winkler, on the House floor, via MPR

Gazelka did leave the door open to expanding the state’s medical cannabis program and lowering criminal penalties for cannabis crimes.

This was the first time a cannabis legalization bill had ever made it to the floor of either chamber in Minnesota’s Legislature.

The reforms are supported by Gov. Tim Walz (D) who said in 2019 that he had directed all relevant state agencies to “put all of the building blocks in place” for legalization that would allow the state to implement the rules and regulations “the minute” the Legislature approved the reforms.

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