Democratic state lawmakers marked 4/20 on Wednesday with calls to legalize recreational marijuana, regulate the marketplace and expunge cannabis criminal convictions.
Last year, a bill to legalize adult-use recreational marijuana passed the Minnesota House on a 72-61 vote.
The vote marked the first time a legalization bill had reached the state House floor, but the effort's companion bill is destined to die in the Republican-controlled Senate, with Minnesota Republicans opposing legalization.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and other DFL lawmakers took to social media on 4/20 — the unofficial cannabis holiday — to continue calls for decriminalization.
On Twitter, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said legalizing marijuana and expunging records would promote growth in the economy by adding jobs and increasing the number of small businesses in Minnesota.
"On top of that, it's the right thing to do, especially for all who have received unfair prison sentences that have set their lives back," she wrote.
Attorney General Keith Ellison urged Minnesota's to "be blunt" about long-documented racial injustices in the system of cannabis criminalization.
The American Civil Liberties Union finds Black Minnesotans are five times more likely to be arrested in connection with marijuana than white Minnesotans, despite both groups using marijuana at similar rates.
Sen. Matt Klein, a DFL senator Mendota Heights and also a medical doctor, said he's changed his stance on legalization since "dire predictions about increases in crime and adverse public health effects" in other states that have legalized marijuana "have simply not materialized."
"As a physician, I am concerned about the potential for abuse of cannabis, particularly among young people whose brains are still developing," Klein wrote in a Twitter thread. "But I believe we are better able to address that abuse with a regulated and dosed product than we are with our current black market."
Elsewhere in Minnesota on 4/20, advocates gathered for a rally at the State Capitol and some local businesses held events in support of legalization.
An event at Fair State Brewing Cooperative in Minneapolis, for example, raised funds for the #MNisReady, a political action fund.