Minnesota: Ask your state senators to pass cannabis legalization!
Medical Cannabis and Decriminalized
States that have both a medical marijuana law and have removed jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana
Minnesota House of Representatives votes to legalize cannabis, Senate fails to act
Last update: January 2, 2022
On May 13, 2021, the Minnesota House of Representatives voted to legalize cannabis in a 72-61 vote! This was the first time either chamber of the state legislature voted to legalize cannabis.
Unfortunately, however, the legislature adjourned its regular session two days later, with the Senate companion bill stalled in committee. When the legislature reconvenes its regular session on January 31, 2022, legislation picks up where it left off. Thus far, the Minnesota Senate’s Republican majority has refused to heed the will of voters and move bills to legalize cannabis. Until September 2021, the Senate was led by Paul Gazelka, who is strongly opposed to legalization. However, Gazelka stepped down to run for governor, and Senate Republicans chose a new leader — Jeremy Miller. It’s time to put pressure on the Senate to take up this popular bill and put an end the state’s wasteful and harmful war on cannabis.
Legalization would create tens of thousands of desperately needed jobs and hundreds of millions in tax revenue, and it would reduce unnecessary stops, searches, and arrests that unfairly and unequally target Black Minnesotans. A 2020 ACLU report shows Minnesota has the eighth worst racial disparities in the nation, with Black individuals 5.4 times as likely to be arrested for cannabis possession as whites, despite nearly identical use rates.
Minnesota’s medical cannabis program expands; legislature adds flower and smoking
In 2014, then-Governor Mark Dayton signed into law a medical cannabis program after insisting on modifications that made it extremely restrictive and that drive up the costs of medical cannabis.
Among the restrictions were: the qualifying conditions were exceptionally limited; raw/ flower cannabis was prohibited; medical professionals had greater burdens to participate; and the manufacturers/ dispensaries were extremely limited. Thanks to the work of advocates and the openness of regulators, the program has improved substantially since then but remains restrictive.
Local advocates, often with assistance from MPP, have petitioned the Minnesota Office of Medical Cannabis to add qualifying conditions. As a result, the program has slowly expanded. The law required the office to consider adding intractable pain, which it approved in 2015. Then, following the petition process, it added PTSD in 2016, obstructive sleep apnea and autism in late 2017, Alzheimer’s disease in 2018, chronic pain in 2019, and sickle cell disease and chronic motor or vocal tic disorder starting in August 2021. The health department also approved macular degeneration, but it was rejected by the legislature.
In May 2021, the legislature and Gov. Tim Walz approved allowing raw/ flower cannabis — including smoking — for adults 21 and older and expanded caregiver provisions.