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Marijuana legalization bill fails in Senate committee

Today's vote is a blow to Minnesota's "legalize recreational pot" movement.

Recreational marijuana may one day be legalized in Minnesota, but it looks like it's definitely not going to be this year.

On Monday, a state Senate committee voted to reject a bill that would have created a legal market for pot, a move that "likely ends further Senate action on the bill during the 2019 legislative session":

As the Senate's Facebook post notes, the vote fell along party lines, with "no" votes from all six of the committee's Republicans (the remaining three members are all DFLers).

Since a bill must be approved by a committee before it reaches a full vote, the marijuana issue won't be making it to the Senate floor unless another measure is proposed.

The proposed legislation, which was sponsored by DFL Sen. Melisa Franzen of Edina, would have allowed "the sale and use of marijuana by individuals twenty-one years of age and older," and made it possible to expunge some marijuana-related criminal offenses.

Also voted down was a proposal to form a task force "to further study the issue."

Though the prospect of legal pot has plenty of support in Minnesota, legalization has been a thorny issue. As the Senate's release notes, opponents are concerned about people driving while high, minors having greater access to the drug, and "individuals using the drug to treat undiagnosed mental illness."

Nonetheless, Monday's vote received a rebuke from committee member Sen. Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park), who questioned why his fellow members would "shut down debate on a bill that... 80 percent of Minnesotans want”:

Currently, recreational pot is legal in 10 states and the District of Columbia.

Minnesota legalized medicinal marijuana in 2014. 

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