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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL)

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RELEASE: Lawmakers announce “Responsible on Cannabis” approach for key House public hearings

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – On Tuesday afternoon, two committees in the Minnesota House are scheduled to hold public hearings on legislation impacting Minnesota’s cannabis policies. As part of the “Responsible on Cannabis Day” event, Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL – Saint Paul), Chair of the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Division, and Rep. Rena Moran (DFL – Saint Paul), Chair of the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee, are moving forward with a responsible approach to the issues of legalization, enforcement, and the state’s medical cannabis program.

“With as many moving parts as there are on the topic of cannabis, it’s extremely important for us to bring all Minnesotans to the table for a legitimate conversation on the issue,” said Rep. Mariani, chief author of HF 717, which would create a Cannabis Task Force to examine the potential legalization, taxation, and regulation of cannabis production, sale, and use. “Minnesotans have diverse viewpoints about this topic, as do legislators. While we take other steps like those in the bills we’re considering today, a task force will allow us to gather input from regular Minnesotans and affected stakeholders, and puts us on a clear path toward taking whichever steps on this issue are the most viable.”

“It’s clear that our state’s current approach to marijuana isn’t working, and harms Minnesotans in a number of ways,” said Rep. Moran. “From those who can’t access it to treat an illness, to those who have been caught up in the criminal justice system and the unjust racial disparities which come with enforcement, it’s time for Minnesota to move in a new direction, and the bills scheduled for hearings today will allow us to do that.”

Rep. Raymond Dehn (DFL – Minneapolis) is chief author of HF 2013 which would adjust thresholds for marijuana offenses and their penalties.

"The amount of time received for cannabis offenses does not fit the crime, especially with the current ambiguous statute surrounding sale crimes," said Rep. Dehn. "My bill would put a specific amount for controlled substance crimes in statute, while also stating that a person may only be found guilty of a more severe offense if it is a recent repeat offense. We simply don't need to be filling our jails or spending resources on something like this, especially with its negative impact on communities of color."

Rep. Jack Considine (DFL – Mankato) is chief author of HF 1420 which allows veterans with service-connected disabilities to participate in the state medical cannabis program.

“Many of our veterans face numerous roadblocks when they return home getting proper care for both their mental and physical health,” said Rep. Considine. “Cannabis is a proven and effective tool in some of these cases. It’s our responsibility to help these brave Minnesotans out in any way we can, and this bill helps us accomplish that.”

Rep. Samantha Vang (DFL – Brooklyn Center) is chief author of HF 793 which clarifies in law that possession and sale of cannabidiol (CBD) products are legal in the state of Minnesota.

“CBD has been a source of hope for families who have struggled to find affordable, effective care for concerns ranging from epilepsy to migraines,” said Rep. Vang. “We also have an opportunity to offer some clarity to businesses and growers that are operating in a legal gray zone.”

The Public Safety Division meets at 12:45 p.m. in Room 120 of the State Capitol. The Health and Human Services Policy Committee meets at 2:30 p.m. in Room 200 of the State Office Building.