Last Monday, several members of the Minnesota state government told the public that the regional parliament would consider the possibility of full legalization of recreational marijuana by 2021.
Representatives of the Minnesota Democratic Party, Senator Melis Frantzen and MP Mike Friberg, are committed to developing a reform project by 2021. Given that neighboring Michigan formally accepted legalization at the beginning of the year, the sooner the state would accept legalization, the better.
“The legalization of cannabis is spreading rapidly across the country and across the continent,” notes Mr. Friberg in an interview. “After the onset of legalization in Michigan and Canada, it is obvious that Minnesota can no longer ignore the issue of hemp reform.”
The state government of Minnesota, after a lengthy debate, passed a law on medical legalization 5 years ago, but the dialogue on recreational reform began only last fall, during regional elections. As a result, the Democratic majority turned out to be in power for the first time in 4 years, several parliamentary and gubernatorial candidates from which openly supported the possibility of full legalization .
Recall that last year was quite rich in winning for the legalization movement: California has become the largest market for legal cannabis in the world ; Massachusetts was the first legalized region on the east coast of the United States; Canada formally opened its national recreational cannabis market, and, finally, the federal court of Mexico set a precedent in fact legalizing domestic cultivation and use of marijuana in the country.
In addition, shifts were observed in traditionally conservative marijuana regions. For example, Utah and Oklahoma announced regional medical legalization programs. Also, the governors of New York and New Jersey have announced support for plans to soon create recreational cannabis markets.
The former governor of Minnesota, Mark Dayton, was a well-known opponent of any form of hemp reform. On the contrary, who replaced him in the post, Tim Waltz, announced at the inauguration that he would immediately sign a draft on recreational reform. Also, Democrats hold the majority of seats in the Senate and the state parliament, which significantly increases the chance of reform for successful adoption.
At the same time, Paul Gazelka, the head of the Republican Party in the Senate, claims that she will aggressively resist the promotion of the project on recreational reform. “This issue is not a critical point of discussion, either related to the state agenda,” he tells reporters. “In addition, given the link between the legalization of marijuana and the increase in the number of accidents, street crimes and cases of schizophrenia, I can assume that such a reform will only adversely affect the future population of our region.”
In general, the developments of the plan already include the standard limit on the sale of cannabis: from 21 years old and older, as well as provisions aimed at combating the smoking of plants in public places and in transport. In addition, the law will allow local administrative associations, such as cities and districts, to independently regulate cannabis business and its taxation.
At the moment, politicians also want to include in the draft provisions on automatic amnesty for all people who have criminal records related to minor near-cannabis violations and misdemeanors.
In turn, it is worth noting that not all Republicans oppose the possibility of legalization and settlement of hemp business. For example, MP Scott Jensen, representing the town of Shaska, tells reporters that at a municipal referendum at the beginning of the year, more than 90% of the population voted to start a regional dialogue about the possibility of legalization.
“Voters demand decisive action from us,” he said. “This time, the excuses from the committees will not allow us to get away from the dialogue on reform.”
It is also worth noting that at the beginning of the month, an independent legalization bill, drafted by Democrat MP, Raymond Dunn, was also submitted to the regional parliament.
“We have yet to do a lot of work. In particular, there are hours ahead of discussions with a conservative minority that still impedes reform, ”says Friberg.