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Minnesota legislative leader introduces marijuana legalization bill

The bill would allow adults age 21 and older to possess and consume cannabis.

A bill that would legalize cannabis for adult use in Minnesota was introduced Tuesday.

Authored by House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley), the bill would allow for possession and consumption of cannabis by those 21 and older. Winkler, an outspoken advocate for cannabis legalization, said while the COVID-19 pandemic will be the Legislature’s top priority, the bill is aimed at continuing the discussion.

The bill lays out provisions for cannabis legalization in the state, including regulations for retailers, consumers, packaging and labeling. Under the bill, an adult would be permitted to possess 1.5 ounces of cannabis in public and up to 10 pounds at a private residence.

The bill comes after Winkler and other legislative leaders held town halls throughout the state to gather public feedback.

“Our current priority is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, but after the town halls and discussions around this issue, we still wanted to put a strong bill forward. As we look to come out of this crisis as a better, stronger Minnesota, we need to continue working toward legalizing cannabis for responsible adult use,” Winkler said in a statement.

Winkler also stated the bill would help address inequalities in the criminal justice system related to cannabis. A recent report by the ACLU found that Minnesota is the 8th worst state for racial disparities when it comes to cannabis arrests.

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The report recommended legalization for adults 21 and older, claiming it could repair some of the damages caused by the disparity.

Eleven states and Washington D.C. have legalized recreational cannabis use for adults. Top GOP lawmakers, including Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, have opposed legalization efforts after several efforts in recent years.

Last session, cannabis legalization failed in a Republican-controlled Senate committee

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