Minnesota House Could Take Final Vote On Marijuana Legalization Bill Imminently Following Completion Of Conference Report
A bill to legalize marijuana in Minnesota could receive its final vote in the House as early as Wednesday now that a conference report has been finalized and signed.
Rep. Zack Stephenson (D), the measure’s House sponsor, said late on Tuesday that he signed the 320-page conference report that was processed by non-partisan legislative staff following the final meeting of bicameral negotiators on Monday.
As a reminder, the conference committee report needs to sit at the front desk of the House for 12 hours before the House can bring it up for a final vote. It will then go to the Senate for a final vote, and then to the Governor for his signature
— Zack Stephenson (@zackstephenson) May 17, 2023
The legislation needed to sit in the House for at least 12 hours after being signed before it could be taken up for a vote. Now that time has passed, and Stephenson says it’s “theoretically” possible that it could move on Wednesday—but he said it “almost certainly won’t happen that quickly” because budget bills are currently taking priority and that it’s more likely the legalization vote will happen later in the week—or even over the weekend.
If the House adopts the conference report it will then go to the Senate for a final vote.
But sometime later this week (or maybe over the weekend) the House and Senate WILL VOTE on this bill, and IT. WILL. FINALLY. PASS!
— Zack Stephenson (@zackstephenson) May 17, 2023
If the measure does advance though both chambers again—which must happen by May 22 when the legislative session ends—it will be sent to the governor, who has committed to signing it.
The reason for the conference committee was that both the House- and Senate-passed cannabis legalization bills were separately amended over the course of a months-long committee process, so they needed to be unified before receiving final votes.
The conference committee report ccrhf0100 published 11:48 PM is at https://t.co/Uldff4TACb #mnleg
— Revisor of Statutes (@MNRevisor) May 17, 2023
Democratic-Farmer-Labor lawmakers point to the achievement on cannabis reform as a direct result of voters putting the party in the majority in both chambers after last year’s election.
The legislation that advanced through both chambers is an iteration of the 2021 House-passed bill from former Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (D), who now serves as campaign chairman of the advocacy coalition MN is Ready.
Gov. Tim Walz (D) has called on supporters to join lawmakers and the administration in their push legalize marijuana this session, and he circulated an email blast in January that encourages people to sign a petition backing the reform.
Here are the main components of the final marijuana legalization bill, HF 100.
As of August 1, adults 21 and older could purchase and possess in public up to two ounces of cannabis and they would be allowed to cultivate up to eight plants at home, four of which could be mature. People could possess up to two pounds of marijuana in their residences.
Gifting up to two ounces of marijuana without remuneration between adults would be permitted.
It’s expected to take 12-18 months for licenses to be issued and sales to start. As of March 1, 2025, existing medical cannabis businesses could receive new combination licenses that would allow them to participate in the adult-use market.
Prior marijuana records would also be automatically expunged, beginning in August. The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension would be responsible for identifying people who are eligible for relief and process the expungements. A Cannabis Expungement Board would also need to identify other misdemeanor offenses eligible for expungement that were not automatically cleared and notify the courts to process clemency.
In addition to creating a system of licensed cannabis businesses, municipalities and counties could own and operate government dispensaries.
On-site consumption permits could be approved for events, and cannabis delivery services would be permitted under the bill.
Local governments would not be allowed to prohibit marijuana businesses from operating in their areas, though they could set “reasonable” regulations on the time of operation and location while also limiting the number of cannabis business licenses based on population size.
There would be a gross receipts tax on cannabis sales in the amount of 10 percent, which will be applied in addition to the state’s standard 6.875 percent sales tax.
Eighty percent of revenue would go into the state’s general fund—with some monies earmarked for grants to help cannabis businesses, fund substance misuse treatment efforts and other programs—and 20 percent would go to local governments.
A new Office of Cannabis Management would be established, and it would be responsible for regulating the market and issuing cannabis business licenses. There would be a designated Division of Social Equity.
The legislation would promote social equity, in part by ensuring diverse licensing by scoring equity applicants higher. People living in low-income neighborhoods and military veterans who lost honorable status due to a cannabis-related offense would be considered social equity applicants eligible for priority licensing. People convicted of cannabis offenses, or who have an immediate family member with such a conviction, would also qualify.
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The House bill was vetted by numerous committees before reaching the floor. It passed the Ways and Means Committee, Taxes Committee, Transportation Finance and Policy Committee, Economic Development Finance and Policy Committee, Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee, Health Finance and Policy Committee, Education Finance Committee, Human Services Policy Committee, Workforce Development Finance and Policy Committee, Agriculture Finance and Policy Committee, State and Local Government Finance and Policy Committee, Labor and Industry Finance and Policy Committee, Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee, Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee and Commerce Finance and Policy Committee (twice).
The Senate committees that have signed off on the bill are the Finance Committee, Taxes Committee, Rules and Administration Committee, State and Local Government and Veterans Committee, Labor Committee, Human Services Committee, Health and Human Services Committee, Transportation Committee, Environment, Climate, and Legacy Committee, Agriculture, Broadband, and Rural Development Committee, Jobs and Economic Development Committee, Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee and Judiciary and Public Safety Committee (twice).
Following their election win in November, Democrats internally agreed to discuss the issue imminently.
A poll released last week found that 64 percent of Minnesota registered voters support creating a regulated marijuana market, including 81 percent of Democrats and a 49 percent plurality of Republicans.
Two polls released in September found that the majority of Minnesota residents support adult-use marijuana legalization—and one survey showed that even more Minnesotans approve of the state’s move to legalize THC-infused edibles that was enacted last year.
A survey conducted by officials with the House at the annual State Fair that was released in September also found majority support for legalization. That legislature-run poll found that 61 percent of Minnesotans back legalizing cannabis for adult use.
Support was up this year from 58 percent when the House Public Information Services polled fair goers on the issue in 2021. In 2019, the House poll found 56 percent support for legalization.
Meanwhile in Minnesota, the House separately passed an omnibus health bill last month that contains provisions to create a psychedelics task force meant to prepare the state for possible legalization.
And on Tuesday, the legislature approved large-scale legislation that contains provisions to legalize drug paraphernalia possession, syringe services, residue and testing—a win for harm reduction advocates in the state.
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Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.