For the first time ever, under DFL leadership, the Minnesota House of Representatives approved a bill late last night to legalize cannabis for adult use and expunge records for people convicted of non-violent offenses involving cannabis. Legislators voted 72-61 to approve the bill.
“The Minnesota House made history today because we listened to and worked with people of all backgrounds over the course of years to bring forward the best cannabis legalization bill in the nation,” said Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley), the bill’s author and House Majority Leader. “The war on drugs is a failed policy. The harms caused by current cannabis laws cannot be allowed to continue. Minnesota’s illegal cannabis market creates bad outcomes for everyone. Responsible regulations and safeguards to prevent youth access are a better solution to address the harms our current laws fail to address.”
If passed by the Minnesota Senate before the Legislature’s May 17th constitutional adjournment deadline, the bill could be signed into law. This year, the Republican-controlled Senate has blocked all public discussion on adult-use cannabis proposals, but there is still plenty of time to allow senators to vote.
“Our current cannabis laws aren't working for Minnesota,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman. “Criminalizing a product that most people think should be available and continuing a legacy of racial injustice is simply not defensible. This smart, sensible legislation addresses racial inequities in our criminal justice system, mitigates any risks posed by legalizing adult use of cannabis, and ensures better outcomes for communities.”
Prior to today’s historic vote, House File 600 received approval from 12 House committees, including the committees on Commerce; Labor, Industry, Veterans and Military Affairs; Business and Workforce Development; Agriculture; Environment and Natural Resources; Judiciary and Civil Law; State Government; Education Finance; Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform; Health; Taxes; and Ways and Means.