Bill legalizing recreational marijuana in Minnesota nearing a floor vote in house

Bill legalizing recreational marijuana in Minnesota nearing a floor vote in house
Apr
28
Wed

By Caroline Cummings

A bill that would legalize recreational marijuana use for adults is nearing a full House floor vote — the farthest a proposal like this has ever advanced in the legislature.

In the DFL’s quest to approve the proposal, the focus during a public hearing on Tuesday shifted to the potential impact on the criminal justice system.

Supporters say the bill would shrink the divide between how Black and white Minnesotans are treated for possessing marijuana.

A 2020 report from the ACLU of Minnesota shows the state ranks eighth for largest racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests. The analysis also found Black people in the state are 5.4 times more likely to be arrested than white Minnesotans.

“Our effort as a society and as a state to use the criminal justice system to ban, prohibit and criminalize cannabis is a public policy failure,” said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley.

The bill passed its ninth House committee on a 11-7 vote Tuesday. Winkler said it will be reviewed by three other committees before moving to the House floor, likely the first week of May.

Isaiah Shivers testified during the hearing a 36-month sentence in prison he completed is still impacting his life today. 

“Prison affected my employment, obviously, once I got released,” he said. “Home, trying to find homes. Basically affected my whole lifestyle [and] lost contact with children and family as well.”

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