As shoppers pack stores Friday to purchase THC edibles and drinks, the Republican Party of Minnesota is keeping quiet about an apparent political blunder, brought to light when a Republican state senator told Minnesota’s largest newspaper he thought the new law would regulate, rather than legalize, the cannabis-derived products.
Edibles and beverages containing THC — the cannabis ingredient that causes a high —can now be purchased by Minnesotans who are 21 or older.
On the eve of the new law taking effect, the Star Tribune quoted Sen. Jim Abeler, a Republican from Anoka who chairs the Senate Human Services Reform Finance and Policy Committee, already talking about wanting to reverse the new law.
Note: Abeler supported the provision — “exempting cannabinoids derived from hemp from Schedule 1 of the controlled substances schedule" — when it appeared as an amendment to a health and human services bill in May
However, Abeler told the Star Tribune, he didn't realize the new law would legalize edibles containing delta-9 THC. Rather, he thought the law would only regulate delta-8 THC products.
"Republicans have no excuse—this was heard, discussed and approved by committees on which they served," Democratic House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler wrote on Twitter.
Neither Abeler, nor the Republican Party of Minnesota, responded to Bring Me The News' requests for comment on Friday, but video of the May 19 conference committee's negotiations of the health and human services omnibus bill offers some insight.
"That doesn't legalize marijuana — we didn't just do that, did we?" Abeler asks, seconds after adopting the amendment to legalize the products.
"Oh, are you kidding? Of course you have," committee co-chair Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester) responds. "No, just kidding, just kidding — next, we'll do that next, okay?"
"If that exchange in the waning days of the session doesn’t sound like the most thoughtful legislating, you might be onto something," Coolican writes.
And while Republicans might've unknowingly taken part in efforts to legalize weed, it's unlikely Gov. Tim Walz — a supporter of broader legalization efforts — will roll the new law back.
"You're welcome, Minnesota!" the bill's author, Rep. Heather Edelson, DFL-Edina, celebrated on Twitter.