Marijuana legalization has been a long-argued and disputed issue among members of the Minnesota Legislature for a long time. The Democratic-controlled House passed legislation last year that would allow who was at least 21 years old to legally purchase and possess marijuana in certain forms and amounts, but the GOP-controlled Senate has continued to be strictly opposed to recreational legalization. Despite this contestation, a legalization provision was adopted during a marathon conference committee meeting in May without any debate or objection from the republican members in attendance.
This legalization officially took effect in July, after which Republican Senator was reported as commenting that they didn’t legalize it, he was under the impression they were applying a technical fix to an existing Delta-8 bill, which was already legalized on a federal level. Delta 8 was already widely sold in Minnesota to anyone over 21 and had been since the President made it legal previously.
While Minnesota had already legalized medicinal marijuana for patients with PTSD, wasting, intractable pain, severe nausea, and a number of other chronic conditions, the House and Senate have not been able to agree on terms to legalize recreational use for adults.
Legalization advocates who worked on the bill back the assertion that it received significant vetting before it was added to a massive omnibus health care bill at the end of the legislative session. In previous versions, there was no clear guideline for production or regulation, but the current bill provided exactly that. Only those producers who meet the stringent and specific criteria will be legally allowed to produce, grow, sell, or otherwise distribute marijuana in any form, making it safe than products people are currently purchasing illegally.
Previous versions of the bill didn’t have enough safety guidelines, so advocates ensured there were more specific guidelines in place that ensure the definitions of “safe products” are clear and precise. Some restrictions include laboratory testing guidelines, guidelines on proper storage, and the forms and components of the marijuana plant that can be sold in dispensaries.
Currently, many of the republicans who were present claim that they were unaware of the vote for this particular bill, despite being provided the terms and specifications prior to the vote. Most senate republicans in the meeting refused to comment immediately following the committee meeting, and they have referred all questions to the caucus spokesperson until further notice.