A bill that would legalize recreational marijuana for adults has passed its first committee, marking the first time in Minnesota history that such a proposal has passed a Legislative committee.
The proposal, HF 600, as amended, sponsored by House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, passed out of the House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee on Wednesday on a 10-7 party-line vote – all DFLers voted in favor of it, while all GOPers voted against it.
You can watch the committee meeting below:
According to Session Daily, more than 30 people signed up to speak during the committee hearing, and the committee received more than 30 letters of written testimony.
The bill would legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older, allowing them to have 1.5 ounces or less in a public place and 10 pounds or less of marijuana at their home, among other restrictions.
It would also expunge most marijuana-related convictions; fund public health awareness, youth access prevention and substance-abuse treatment; and provide grants and technical assistance and training for small businesses.
The bill's Senate companion, SF 757, is sponsored by Sen. Melisa Franzen, DFL-Edina, and it is awaiting action by the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee.
In the Republican-controlled Senate, the bill is expected to face strong opposition. Top GOP lawmakers, including Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, have opposed legalization efforts in recent years. In the 2019 legislative session, cannabis legalization failed in a Republican-controlled Senate committee.
Opponents of the bill on Wednesday shared concerns over the bill leading to increased substance-abuse problems, unsafe roads, and issues with how to handle someone who is high at work.
At least 15 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana, while dozens more including Minnesota have legalized it for medical purposes.