Adult-Use Legalization Bill Proceeds Through Committee in Minnesota House and Senate

Following last year’s passage of a law authorizing the sale of certain food and beverage products containing THC, two companion bills to legalize adult-use marijuana are moving thorough committee in both the Minnesota House and Senate. Proponents of the legalization proposal are optimistic that the legislation can be passed by the close of the state’s congressional session in May, and Minnesota governor Tim Walz has indicated he would sign the legislation, if passed.

Minnesota currently permits the use of medical marijuana to treat certain conditions, and, this past summer, legalized the sale of food and drink products containing up to 5 mg of hemp-derived THC. Under the current regime, liquor stores cannot sell THC beverages – and these beverages cannot contain alcohol – but otherwise their sale is not restricted; they are offered by distributors, in taprooms and convenience stores, and through online sales, among other means. In addition to THC beverages, retail stores have begun offering THC gummies and other food products.

The legalization bill currently under discussion would remove the restriction on sales of THC beverages by liquor stores and otherwise loosen the requirements for licenses to sell low-potency (5 mg or less THC per serving) products. Other significant aspects of the proposal are the authorization of marijuana delivery services as well as on-site consumption (but not smoking or vaping) of cannabis products at retail sellers. On-site consumption permits would also be made available for events, such as concerts and festivals. The proposed legislation would allow counties and municipalities to own and operate dispensaries, but – in contrast to some other states’ laws – would not allow municipalities to enact prohibitions on otherwise-authorized cannabis businesses. Minnesota is also following the trend of including a social equity component in its legalization proposal. The bill includes a program to automatically expunge prior marijuana records, and the contemplated licensing scheme would prioritize “social equity” applicants, including minorities and residents of low-income communities. Retail cannabis would be subject to an eight percent sales tax, which would fund substance misuse treatment programs and grants supporting farmers.

Polls have found that the majority of Minnesota residents support the legalization of adult-use cannabis, with one recent survey showing a 3% increase in support since last year, to 61%. This support, combined with the enthusiasm expressed by lawmakers, may soon lead to the passage of an adult-use legalization bill in Minnesota.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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