Before the coronavirus pandemic had the entire world in a stranglehold, Minnesota House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler declared that he would introduce the ‘best legalization bill in the country’ within the coming weeks. However, with the virus spreading wildly across the country, priorities shifted and the legislation was put on the back burner.
On Tuesday, Winkler finally came through, filing a whopping 222-page bill with 33 cosponsors. “Our current priority is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic but after the town halls and discussions around this issue, we still wanted to put a stronger Minnesota, we need to continue working toward legalizing cannabis for responsible use,” he said after filing the legislation.
The legislation covers an extensive range of issues, including social equity, trying to limit cozy corporate relationships, and outlawing unregulated adulterants in marijuana products. It would also allow generous personal possession limits, home cultivation, and on-site consumption at licensed businesses.
According to Leili Fatehi, campaign manager for Minnesotans for Responsible Marijuana Regulation, the legislation was the result of months of hard work with Winkler’s staff. Since Minnesota doesn’t have a system to allow citizens to put initiatives on the ballot, marijuana legalization has to go through the legislature.
“We’ve been working with Majority Leader Winkler and his team for nearly a year now to advance conversations in and out of the Capitol. Today’s introduction of a comprehensive, equity-based cannabis legalization bill is a big step for Minnesota and all Minnesotans who know we can responsibly legalize and regulate,” she said.
Residents 21 and older would be allowed to possess and transport up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana and 8 grams of cannabis concentrates in public places and keep up to 10 pounds at their private residence. They would also be permitted to grow up to eight mature plants at home. Retail sales would be subject to a 10% tax.
The bill would allow a variety of businesses including retail delivery and event organizers. It also protects them from municipalities, stating that they “may not prohibit the establishment or operation of a cannabis business licensed under this chapter.” They will, however, be able to set time, place, and other manner of restrictions on businesses’ operations.
The governor would be charged with appointing a seven-person Cannabis Management Board to oversee the state’s legal cannabis program. It will be under the Office of Medicinal Cannabis, which would run the state’s existing medical cannabis program, and the Office of Social Equity, which would promote “development, stability, and safety in communities that experienced a disproportionate, negative impact from cannabis prohibition.”
“Minnesotans have been loud and clear that our current laws are doing more harm than good. By creating a regulatory framework, we can address the harms caused by cannabis and establish a more sensible set of laws to improve our health care and criminal justice systems and ensure better outcomes for communities,” said Winkler.
Experts say seasoned industry players like Plus Products Inc. (CSE: PLUS) (OTCQX: PLPRF) may be impressed by the degree of detail captured in this draft bill aimed at addressing any possible concerns that different sections of the community may have about cannabis legalization.
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