Members of the state Senate today passed legislation legalizing the possession, home-cultivation, retail production, and sale of cannabis for those age 21 or older. Provisions in the measure also provide for the automatic review and expungement of criminal convictions specific to misdemeanor marijuana violations.
Members of the Senate decided 34 to 33 in support of the measure. Senators voted along party lines, with Democrats supporting it and Republicans opposing it. Prior to the floor vote, Senators narrowly defeated a Republican-led motion to table the bill and another to return it back to committee.
The vote comes just days after House members approved a similar measure (HF 100). Discrepancies between the House and Senate language must be addressed in conference committee prior to it being advanced to Democratic Gov. Tim Walz, who is on record in support of legalizing and regulating marijuana. If signed into law, the adult-use possession provisions will take effect on August 1, 2023.
“The majority of Minnesota voters support repealing marijuana prohibition and replacing this failed policy with legalization and regulation,” NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “Passage of this legislation is the result of years of grassroots activism by consumers and stakeholders, including Minnesota NORML. In fact, the impetus for the formation of Minnesota NORML was based upon a police raid and resulting marijuana arrest. These sort of destructive actions are now poised to come to an end in Minnesota.”
The Senate version of the bill permits adults to possesses larger quantities of cannabis at home than is allowed by the House, and it imposes higher tax rates upon the retail sales of marijuana products. The Senate bill also delays the timeline for expunging the records of those with eligible cannabis convictions. Under the House-passed version, this process begins on August 1, but under the Senate-backed version, officials will have until January 2025 to begin initiating record expungements.
Both the Senate and House versions permit adults to grow up to eight cannabis plants at home for their own personal use, and both limit localities from prohibiting the establishment of marijuana-related businesses.
Minnesota is poised to become the 23 state to legalize marijuana for adults. Earlier this month, Delaware lawmakers passed a pair of bills legalizing adult-use marijuana possession and establishing a system for the licensed sales of cannabis products. Those bills became law this week absent the governor’s signature. Maryland lawmakers this month also passed legislation to implement a voter-approved referendum legalizing the use and sale of marijuana products and expunging cannabis-related criminal records. That bill still awaits the governor’s signature.
Additional information is available from Minnesota NORML.