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Minneapolis mayor calls recreational cannabis legislation a "long overdue step"

Minneapolis mayor calls recreational cannabis legislation a "long overdue step"
Minneapolis mayor calls recreational cannabis legislation a "long overdue step" 01:04

MINNEAPOLIS -- As the recreational cannabis bill makes its way through the Minnesota Legislature, the Minneapolis mayor is calling it a "long overdue step that needs to take place."

In an interview Wednesday, Mayor Jacob Frey told WCCO that he's been for the legalization of marijuana his entire political career.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey CBS

"First of all, it's just not that big of a deal and secondly there are a ton of people that have gotten in a boat load of trouble simply for carrying a joint," Frey said.

The proposal, which was approved by the Minnesota House Tuesday, would create a new state Office of Cannabis Management, tasked with oversight.

"People talk about the fact that pot is not dangerous - and it's not. You need to make sure that it's properly regulated, you need to make sure you know what people are ingesting. That's always the case," Frey said. "I'll tell you what is dangerous is if you get busted for a joint and you spend a bunch of time behind bars for it."

RELATED: What legal marijuana could look like in Minnesota

The legislation -- the culmination of hours of testimony and 16 committee hearings -- would also automatically expunge low-level cannabis convictions and set up an expungement board to consider felony offenses.

Frey says it's an "important change" and the records of people who got busted for weed need to be expunged.

"We need to make sure that ultimately we've got a system in place where it is thoughtful, it's responsible, it is regulated, but yes, it's legalized," he said.

The Senate is scheduled for a vote on their own version of the bill on Friday, but a joint panel of lawmakers will meet in a conference committee to sort out differences before the session ends next month. Gov. Tim Walz intends to sign the bill once it gets to his desk.

If the proposal is signed into law, having cannabis for personal use, with some limits, will no longer be illegal in Minnesota by the summer. But setting up the regulatory framework for taxes, rules, and licensing of new legal cannabis businesses will take at least a year, according to Rep. Zack Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids, who is the bill's author. 

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