Lawmakers in the state of Minnesota recently introduced a bill that would legalize the recreational use of cannabis among adults. The legislation is funded in the Minnesota Senate by Sen. Melisa Franzen and Sen. Scott Jensen and by Rep. Mike Freiberg in the Minnesota House of Representatives.
If the bill successfully passes, it would legalize the utilization, possession, purchase, and cultivation of cannabis among adults of age 21 and above. The state is responsible for authorizing, regulating and taxing cannabis cultivators, manufacturers, and retailers. Furthermore, the state enacts health and safety rules including lab testing and packaging requirements. The Minnesota Department of Health will be responsible for regulating dispensaries, and a process would be established to monitor the cultivation of commercial cannabis from seed to sale. The industry would not be allowed to use marketing targeting teens, and local governments would be permitted to control the sales and production of cannabis in their communities.
Freiberg stated in a press release that the time has come for the state to move beyond marijuana prohibition.
Freiberg said that the old prohibition policy of Minnesota had become more of an issue than a solution. She also said that the problem is pushing cannabis into a shady underground economy, which generates more potential hazard for consumers and communities than marijuana itself. She added that the regulation of marijuana would make Minnesota more secured by eliminating the criminal factor and empowering the state and local governments to begin regulating the production and sales of cannabis.
Franzen said that the bills would allow adults to obtain cannabis without sacrificing government oversight or public safety.
She also mentioned that the state is focused in drafting a bill which will end the prohibition of cannabis in Minnesota and the bill will ensure that a responsible regulatory model for consumer access that still carters for public health, safety, and welfare.
According to Jason Tarasek, the Minnesota political director for the Marijuana Policy Project and co-founder of Minnesotans for Responsible Marijuana Regulation, during a period of close public resources, the state should update its policies and priorities.
Tarasek said that the time has come for Minnesota to understand that, similar to alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, the ban on cannabis is not successful. The legalization and regulation of the sales of marijuana will prevent teens from using the drug without needlessly arresting responsible adult consumers. He added that legalization would permit law enforcement to concentrate on addressing severe crimes, while also generating a significant new stream of revenue for the state.
The measures to legalize cannabis also involves social equity provisions like allowing for the removal of some cannabis-related offenses from the records of offenders and offering yearly funds to less privileged communities, most of which have been negatively affected by the War on Drugs. Extra resources would be provided for drug education, mental health services, and measures to fight against impaired driving. According to an analysis by the Marijuana Policy Project, cannabis legalization in Minnesota could generate a lot of money in new tax revenue for the state.