Minnesota Democratic Leaders to Push for Marijuana Legalization

According to a new report by the Associated Press, some top Minnesota Democratic lawmakers are planning to make a major push in the 2020 legislative session to legalize recreational marijuana

“Legalization is going to happen in Minnesota, and the question is whether it happens this year, next year, or the year after,” House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler said. “The change is coming, and we are preparing for that change by creating legislation that will address all the harms of our existing prohibition of cannabis.”

Winkler and Senate Assistant Minority Leader Jeff Hayden acknowledged at a news conference that they probably won’t be able to overcome strong opposition from the Senate’s Republican majority. Winkler said the bill might not even get a House floor vote, given that it may need to go through up to 23 committees for a full vetting. He said it’s “highly likely” they’ll need more than a year.

The AP states that Winkler, Hayden and other Democrats have held 15 town halls across the state since September to gather information from experts and citizens.

The group plans to file their legalization bill next week.. Winkler said it should be “the best legalization bill in the country to date”.

Winkler said they want to develop a cannabis marketplace that’s legal, taxed and regulated. Their plan is for a Minnesota-grown industry that has safeguards in place to prevent big companies from taking over the market.

“People want this to be a Minnesota-based, craft-type industry as far as possible,” Winkler said.

Governor Tim Walz supports marijuana legalization, but GOP Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said last month that the Senate won’t consider legalization this year.

In regards to Gazelka and others opposing the measure, Winkler says that “the people of Minnesota will roll over them eventually on issues like this. So they can decide to be speed bumps, or they can decide to be active participants in crafting policy.”

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