Minnesota Legislature to Consider Ending Marijuana Prohibition, Regulating and Taxing Marijuana for Adult Use
Legislation will be introduced Monday in the House and Senate that would allow adults 21 and older to purchase marijuana in licensed, taxpaying businesses
Statements below from the bill sponsors, Sen. Melisa Franzen and Rep. Mike Freiberg, and the Marijuana Policy Project
ST. PAUL, Minn. — State lawmakers will introduce legislation Monday that would end marijuana prohibition in Minnesota and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed for adult use.
The legislation, sponsored by Sens. Melisa Franzen (DFL-Edina) and Scott Jensen (R-Chaska) in the Senate and Rep. Mike Freiberg (DFL-Golden Valley) in the House, would make it legal for adults 21 and older to possess, grow, and purchase limited amounts of marijuana. The state would license and regulate businesses to cultivate, process, test, and sell marijuana to adults, and it would create and enforce strict health and safety regulations, such as testing and labeling requirements and restrictions on marketing to teens.
“Minnesota's outdated prohibition policy has become more of a problem than a solution,” Freiberg said. “It is forcing marijuana into a shady underground market, which creates more potential harm for consumers and communities than marijuana itself. Regulating marijuana would make our state safer by removing the criminal element and empowering our state and local governments to start controlling production and sales.”
Among other things, the proposed legislation would:
- Empower the Minnesota Department of Health to regulate marijuana dispensaries and direct regulators to develop a “seed-to-sale” system that tracks marijuana from cultivation to sale.
- Allow local governments to regulate the production and sale of marijuana in their communities.
- Prohibit retailers from marketing in a manner that targets teens.
- Allow for the expungement of certain marijuana-related crimes from the records of previously convicted persons.
- Dedicate $10 million annually to impoverished communities, many of which have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition; additionally, millions of dollars will be directed each year to mental health services, efforts to combat impaired driving, and teen drug education.
Based on current usage rates and the market price of marijuana being sold for adult use in Colorado, the Marijuana Policy Project estimates regulated marijuana sales could generate between $200 million and $300 million per year in new tax revenue for Minnesota.
“Our focus in drafting legislation to end the prohibition of cannabis in Minnesota is to ensure we have a responsible regulatory model for consumer access that still provides for public health, safety and welfare,” Franzen said. “The time has come for us to have this debate.”
A September 2018 KSTP/SurveyUSA poll found 56 percent of Minnesota voters — including 67 percent of voters under age 50 — think the state should legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older.
“It is time for Minnesota to recognize that, like alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, its prohibition of marijuana does not work,” said Jason Tarasek, Minnesota political director for the Marijuana Policy Project and co-founder of Minnesotans for Responsible Marijuana Regulation. “By legalizing marijuana and carefully regulating its sale, we can keep it out of the hands of teens without needlessly arresting responsible adult consumers. This would allow law enforcement to spend more time addressing serious crimes, while also creating a significant new revenue stream for our state.”
Nine states have enacted laws regulating and taxing marijuana for adult use. In addition, Vermont and Washington, D.C. have enacted laws making marijuana possession and cultivation legal for adults, and their governments are now considering proposals to regulate commercial production and sales.