2021 set a precedent for cannabis legalization across the country, and it appears that it won’t be slowing down. Minnesota’s already established medical program in late 2021 includes the sale of edibles, and now, there’s a full-blown effort for recreational legalization.
Democratic leaders in Minnesota may have faced setbacks. Still, the sponsor of a reform bill passed by the House said that he’d be working diligently to revise the legislation to boost support among the opposition.
During the Minnesota Hemp Growers Cooperative roundtable on January 19, House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (D) and Senate Minority Leader Melisa Franzen (D) detailed their plans to bring cannabis reform to the state in some shape.
Admitting that it’s “not a perfect bill,” Winkler and Franzen said there were countless hours “involving thousands of people’s input” to help bring cannabis legalization to Minnesota, per Marijuana Moment.
A few provisions in the bill, approved by the House floor in 2021, need revision, specifically regarding potential substance abuse and how the state will issue licenses.
Ultimately, they’re aiming to re-examine certain aspects of the legislation with hopes that they can enact reform measures in the foreseeable future.
Of course, this means that they need to actively amend the legislation to gain bipartisan support in the House.
Having to gain support in the GOP-controlled House might have its difficulties, though Winkler reiterated the importance of drafting laws that can represent the needs of his colleagues.
“Any effort this year that would be successful would require Republican support as well,” Winkler said during the roundtable.
Cannabis companies and advocates might be eager to see Winkler pull through with his measures. There’s hope that another vote on the legislation will go through the House.
Not everyone is as optimistic as Winkler of these efforts.
Senate Minority Leader Melisa Franzen seemed discouraged by the possibilities, as members of the Republican-led chamber are not budging on cannabis reform laws.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a path to legalization this year in the Minnesota Senate,” Franzen said. “It’s controlled by the Republican party, and they have there are a few members who are really adamantly opposed to legalization.”
Still, Winkler said that the work done by advocates helped pass other cannabis-related laws in the state, namely a bill that broadened the medical marijuana program to include smokeable flowers.
Medical patients in Minnesota can finally access dry flower to roll up in RAW papers. Gov. Tim Walz, who supports legalization, signed the bill.
The other issue lawmakers in Minnesota are struggling to address is the current legislature regarding CBD. There’s an increased crackdown on the sale of the non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis among Minnesota’s agriculture department and pharmacy board.
Advocates are pushing harder than ever to bring new reform measures for CBD, and Winkler’s responses suggest that this topic is at the forefront of his mind in his battle to pass the legislation.
He explained that the state government’s recent expansion of the medical cannabis program will be “a template for how we will address challenges with CBD this year.”
He assured advocates who sat in on the panel that his staff’s worked closely with advocates, senators, and industry leaders “to get in a repair for the CBD industry.”
Like other parts of the country, residents have significant support in legalizing marijuana. Last year, a poll revealed that 58% of Minnesotans support cannabis reform laws, a two percent increase from a similar survey conducted in 2019.
Things appear to be moving forward, though. On January 27, Gov. Tim Walz applied further pressure on lawmakers to pass a cannabis legalization bill. He proposed opening up the city budget to include the oversight of a recreational program in the state.
Walz suggested the state allocate $25 million toward establishing a Cannabis Management Office responsible for overseeing the regulated retail market.
The CMO would also help create the legal framework for cannabis in the state and use funds to offer grants to “individuals entering the legal cannabis market.”