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Minnesota Recreational Cannabis Bill Moves Forward in House

By: Buz Deliere | January 12, 2023

On Wednesday, the Minnesota House Commerce Committee made a major step towards legalizing recreational cannabis by providing initial approval to this year's bill. Having cleared its first hurdle, the legislation must undergo numerous additional reviews before possibly reaching a decisive floor vote in one of America’s Midwestern states.

Rep. Zack Stephenson of Coon Rapids has reiterated his commitment to stringent approval processes for the adult-use cannabis bill he authored, which successfully passed through the House in 2019 following a thorough vetting process.

Rep. Stephenson spoke with KARE 11 about the upcoming state legislative session, expressing his enthusiasm for public input during a process that will involve over 13 committees in both chambers of government. He declared it to be "phenomenal" and remarked upon the unprecedented level of involvement citizens across Minnesota can have on policy-making decisions this year.

"Obviously there are still some issues to work out and with a bill that big that is a given, but I feel really encouraged and really positive about how things went today." Stephenson said.

Law-abiding citizens of this state could soon enjoy the freedom to carry up to two ounces and even cultivate eight plants of recreational cannabis, as the bill recently proposed seeks to legalize it. Moreover, any retail purchases made come with an 8% tax on top of regular sales tax - excluding medical cannabis from such levies.

The legislation is set to bring a new wave of much-needed relief for those previously convicted of low-level cannabis crimes by wiping their court records from criminal history search databases.

This move will provide an unprecedented level of amnesty and rehabilitative justice for individuals who may have made mistakes in the past, but find themselves facing lingering punishments even years later.

In a major step towards legalizing cannabis, the state has introduced The proposed 120-page bill that outlines clear guidelines for business licensing. Proponents of the initiative are taking care to strike a balance between raising high enough taxes to pay for enforcement, while not setting it so aggressively as to disincentivize users from reverting back into illegal markets.

Stephenson states, "Our goal in this bill is to foster local and small businesses to give them the tools they need to be successful, much the same way we’ve seen success in the craft industry on the alcohol side."

According to Stephenson, a unified approach is necessary when it comes to cannabis regulation and sales in the state. He firmly rejects the notion of allowing individual municipalities to impose their own retail bans on cannabis consumption.

Years of failed prohibition have led Marcus Harcus, now a representative for Uniflora Holistics cannabis store, to conclude that preventing marijuana use in the state has been an unsuccessful endeavor.

Harcus says, "This isn't a question of will prohibition stop people from consuming cannabis because 700,000 Minnesotans already do. It's a question are we going to be criminalized for it."

Despite strong support for recreational marijuana becoming legal, opinions on the new bill have been mixed. Some argue that two ounces is not enough while others lament being unable to buy THC and CBD products in the same place.


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