Three legislators in Minnesota have introduced a bill that is intended to legalize recreational marijuana for adults in the state. Two senators (Scott Jensen and Melisa Franzen) and House Rep. Mike Freiberg are the brains behind this bill that was introduced on Monday this week.
The bill seeks to allow adults over 21 years of age to possess, grow and consume cannabis within the state. The state would also set up mechanisms through which the industry can be regulated in order to ensure that all activities conform to set standards during the cultivation, processing and marketing of marijuana. Special attention would also be devoted to preventing teens from accessing cannabis.
Frieberg released a statement in which he said that the prohibitionist laws of Minnesota were outdated and caused more problems rather than fixing the problem of drug abuse. He added that creating a regulated market would get rid of the criminals currently selling the drug and regulated sales would also bring revenue to the state while reducing the potential harm of marijuana to consumers.
Rep. Frieberg also said that it was time to start having a debate on marijuana in the state in order to come up with an appropriate model that will end cannabis prohibition.
In the bill, the Department of Health would be responsible for regulating cannabis dispensaries in the state. The department would also make sure that cannabis regulators establish a system that oversees the entire cannabis value chain from the time a seed is planted to the time the finished product is sold.
The bill will also allow the state to expunge certain cannabis arrests from the criminal records of those who qualify for such a reprieve. Under the bill, approximately $10 million from the cannabis tax revenue will be spent n the impoverished communities that have been affected the most by the prohibitionist laws. Millions of dollars would also be directed towards mental health programs each year in addition to funding education campaigns on drug use by teens.
The Marijuana Policy Project estimates that Minnesota can earn about $200 million to $300 million from marijuana taxes each year.
Currently, 10 states and Washington D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana while 33 states have legalized medical marijuana. Minnesota therefore will have a large pool from which to draw experiences when finalizing its marijuana law.
However, it may be a while before a final law is passed since the Senate’s Majority Leader (Paul Gazelka) said that the most that can happen during this legislative session is to have an informational hearing.
All the same, cannabis industry players like Supreme Cannabis Company Inc. (TSX.V: FIRE) (OTCQX: SPWRF) and Sunniva Inc. (CSE: SNN) (OTCQB: SNNVF) hope that the discussions will be objective and culminate in a decision that is in the best interest of Minnesotans.
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