A Minnesota Democrat is proposing a bill that would make marijuana legal in the state.
Deputy Minority Leader Rep. Jon Applebaum plans to introduce a bill that would allow the state to regulate the drug similar to how it does alcohol – so only people who are 21 or older could buy, have and use up to 1 ounce of marijuana, a news release says.
The bill would also allow Minnesotans to grow up to six marijuana plants at a time, as long as three or fewer are mature. Using the drug in public or while driving would be illegal.
“Aside from its proven, significant economic benefits, safely legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana will improve our criminal justice system by allowing law enforcement officials to spend more time and resources addressing serious crimes, and will promote individual freedom and liberty for Minnesotans to consume an objectively non-dangerous product," Applebaum said in a statement.
Applebaum says he pictures a "billion dollar 'Made in Minnesota' marijuana economy" – the drug would be grown by Minnesota farmers, distributed by local companies and sold by small businesses in the state. All the proceeds from taxes would go towards funding public schools, which would lower taxes for families, he added.
It' probably won't pass, though
If the bill passes the Republican-controlled House and Senate, and Gov. Mark Dayton signs it, it would be legal for Minnesotans to smoke weed in 2019.
But that probably won't happen. Lawmakers had a tough time legalizing even medical marijuana in Minnesota back in 2014, and the state's current medical marijuana law is one of the strictest ones out there (it doesn't even allow approved patients to smoke the drug).
It also looks like the governor isn't quite on board with legal recreational pot:
And neither is the chair of the House Public Safety and Security Police Committee. Rep. Tony Cornish, a Republican, told MPR News the bill "has no future whatsoever" and he doesn't plan to hold a hearing on it.
Plus, marijuana – even medical cannabis – is still illegal under federal law, and it's likely that'll stay that way under the Trump administration. President Donald Trump has said he'll be "ruthless" in the war on drugs, the Washington Post reports, and Sen. Jeff Sessions – the nominee for attorney general – has been outspoken against legalizing marijuana, Fortune said.
Even if this bill doesn't get very far this year, Applebaum had this to say: "The world is changing, and Minnesotans are rightfully developing different attitudes on marijuana. Other states’ successes, along with the failed prohibition attempts of others, have validated the need for a statewide conversation on legalizing the personal, recreational use of marijuana."
Marijuana is currently legal for recreational use (or will be soon) in seven states: Alaska, Colorado, California, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, NORML's website shows.
Legalizing marijuana has gotten more bipartisan support in recent years. A Gallup poll released in October 2016 found support for the legal use of the drug was at 60 percent. The poll found 42 percent of Republican adults support legalization, while 67 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of Independents do.
There's another marijuana bill that'll be introduced in the House this week, too. Rep. Tina Liebling, a Democrat, wants to ask voters if they want to legalize marijuana through a constitutional amendment, a news release says. Her proposal would include comprehensive policies, as well as funding for chemical dependency and mental health education and treatment.