House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler plans to continue his push for Legalization in Minnesota. He announced to local activists and organizations Friday January 29th that he intends to introduce legislation Monday that would start the process of Reforming Marijuana Laws in Minnesota.
He wrote, "In the coming days, I, along with dozens of my colleagues, will be introducing a bill to legalize cannabis and expunge the records of cannabis crimes".
He went on to say that "Cannabis is not new to Minnesota. In fact, according to the federal Department of Health and Human Services, 15.9% of adults or 680,000+ Minnesota adults have used cannabis in the past year. The lack of regulation of this industry has not worked:
While there is a small disparity in the rate of usage between Caucasians and African-Americans (2013 ACLU Study), there is a large disparity in cannabis arrests - African Americans represent only 5% of the population, but 31% of the cannabis possession arrests.
September of 2019 saw the highest number of E.R. visits linked to vaping (most from additives in unregulated vaping products).
No ID checks – 66% of tenth graders across the country reported that cannabis is “very easy” or “fairly easy” to access.
No dosage restrictions or labeling on cannabis products.
It is hard to access for veterans – the VA cannot prescribe it and instead prescribe opioids at alarming rates. Between 2010 and 2015, the number of veterans addicted to opioids increased by 55 percent to nearly 70,000.
Law enforcement made 8,752 arrests for cannabis in 2018. Legalizing cannabis can reduce law enforcement time and resources spent on cannabis offenses – saving tens of millions of dollars."
But what does that mean for actual Legalization in Minnesota?
On Tuesday January 27th Governor Tim Walz implored the legislature to look into legalizing marijuana as a means to boost the economy and promote racial justice.
Minnesota Governor Urges Lawmakers To Pursue Marijuana Legalization Amid Budget Talks
We have seen legislation introduced multiple times over the last few years but up till now its been nothing but smoke!
Unfortunately unlike Colorado or a majority of other legal states most passed legalization through ballot initiative
The ballot initiative is a means by which a petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can bring about a public vote on a proposed statute or constitutional amendment. Ballot initiatives are also referred to as ballot measures, popular initiatives, voter initiatives, citizen initiatives, propositions.
Ballot initiatives may take the form of either the direct or indirect initiative. Under the direct initiative, a measure is put directly to a vote after being submitted by a petition. Under the indirect initiative, a measure is first referred to the legislature, and then only put to a popular vote if not enacted by the legislature.
This means the bill will have to pass in both the house and the senate.
But with little support in the Senate the bill is not likely to pass unless a critical mass of supporters somehow convince a Republican controlled senate that legalization is what is best for Minnesota.
In 2019 a bill was introduced for the first time in the senate and actually got a hearing.
The legislation, which was introduced by a bipartisan pair of senators, was struck down along party lines in a 6-3 vote. The Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee decided not to advance the bill with “no recommendation” or to send an amended version along to other committees so that it could potentially be revived later in the session.
That year Ryan Winkler held a Be Heard On Cannabis tour and went around the state to get thoughts from the community on what the best possible bill for legalization should look like.
After hours of meetings in the community and with local groups and organizations a bill was finely introduced in the house in 2020 HF 4632 though it was not likely to pass in the Senate it was able to keep the conversation going with hopes of introducing legislation in 2021.
Would you like to get Involved in the FIGHT to end Marijuana Prohibition in Minnesota?
We need your help!