On Friday, the Minnesota Senate voted to end cannabis prohibition in a landmark decision for adults 21 and over Minnesotans after being approved by the House earlier this week with slight modifications, a 34-33 party-line vote has legalized recreational marijuana across the state - making Minnesota one of many US states following suit on an increasingly popular activity among Americans.
The Senate's version has a proposed cannabis tax of 10%, two percent higher than the House's version. Homeowners also have greater freedom in their possession limits, with this bill allowing up to 5 pounds compared to 1.5 from the earlier draft.
While the House plan does not impose any limits on cannabis businesses, local governments would be given the authority to restrict their numbers under the Senate's proposal.
The Senate's recently passed bill will also expunge criminal records, with the reform becoming effective in 2025 - two years later than proposed under legislation from the House.
On Friday, a passionate discussion kicked off in the Senate concerning whether to pass the bill. While some Republican Senators were concerned about potentially endangering public health and safety with its passage, others believed it should be put into motion immediately.
With marijuana becoming legalized, police anticipate increasing public safety issues associated with driving under the influence. Law enforcement is designing plans to address this looming issue and ensure that citizens will remain safe on our roads.
Another concern that was being expressed was the possibility that a surge in marijuana use could open the door to further substance abuse, while simultaneously limiting their ability to regulate sales of cannabis in the state.
Proponents of the bill are working hard to assuage concerns and anticipate a smooth approval process.
Sen. Ryan Winkler, chairman of "Minnesota is Ready" said, "This bill is ready. And Minnesota is ready for cannabis legalization. People know adults can make responsible decisions for cannabis and the system of prohibition for so long hasn't worked."
The Minnesota legislature is running full steam ahead as the two houses work towards a compromise on their version of legislation that Gov. Tim Walz has stated he intends to sign into law once it reaches his desk for review. This marks an encouraging milestone in the state's journey toward becoming the 23rd state to legalize adult-use cannabis.