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Minnesota House passes recreational marijuana bill in vote of 71-59

House passes bill to legalize recreational marijuana
House passes bill to legalize recreational marijuana 02:58

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota House on Tuesday passed a 300-page bill that would allow adults 21 and older to buy, sell and use marijuana, joining nearly two dozen other states that have legalized the cannabis plant for recreational use.  

UPDATE: Minnesota Senate expected to vote on recreational cannabis bill Friday

It passed Tuesday afternoon on 71-59 vote, with two Republicans joining all but one Democrat in supporting the proposal. Lawmakers started debating it Monday night before adjourning and resuming discussion the next day.  

Minnesota House of Representatives

"Minnesotans deserve the freedom and the respect to make their own decisions about cannabis use. Our current laws have failed," said Rep. Zack Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids, who is the bill's author.  

The proposal would create a new state Office of Cannabis Management, tasked with oversight. Minnesotans looking to cash in on new business would apply for state licenses to grow, manufacture or sell marijuana at dispensaries. It allows a person to keep 1.5 pounds of flower in their homes, grow up to eight plants and have two ounces in a public place.  

READ MORE: Talking Points: Legalizing recreational cannabis in Minnesota

The legislation—which is 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. It's a move that supporters say reflects a core goal of the bill: righting the wrongs of cannabis prohibition that has disproportionately harmed people of color. 

"Minnesotans have told us loud and clear that prohibition is the problem not cannabis," Rep. Jessica Hanson, DFL-Burnsville, said Tuesday. "And they expect us to bring an end to the sinister days of prohibition and create a safe, legal, regulated market that promotes equity and reparation for our errors of the past." 

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, Stephenson said.  

Rep. Nolan West, R-Blaine, was one of the two Republicans who voted yes Tuesday, despite some issues he has with the current language. 

RELATED: What legal marijuana could look like in Minnesota

"The majority of Minnesotans agree that the time to end marijuana prohibition is here," West said during a news conference Monday. "I'm hopeful that Rep. Stephenson will continue to work collaboratively with the minority during conference committee. Republicans stand ready to work with the majority to ensure that this legalization bill is what's best for Minnesotans." 

West expressed concern about the ability of local governments to have a say about where cannabis businesses will operate in their communities and the impact to existing hemp businesses, which were authorized by the legislature last summer to sell low-dose edibles with THC in them.  

This bill would bring regulation of the THC edibles—which are not subject to additional state taxes or licensing right now—under the Office of Cannabis Management. Under the House plan, both hemp and marijuana would face an 8% gross receipts tax in addition to state and local sales taxes.  


Rep. Kristin Robbins, R-Maple Grove, believes the bill falls short on public safety and worries about the impact of allowing Minnesotans to use marijuana legally before the state office tasked with oversight and all business rules are implemented. 

"The regulatory framework that this majority continues to say is the selling point for safety and testing and everything will be packaged and labeled— that's not going to be available for a year if we're optimistic, and I think that's crazy optimistic," Robbins said. "So the black market is going to have a year and a half head start on this." 

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. 

Minnesota would also become the 23rd state to legalize weed. 

More details on what the bill would allow for those 21 or older:

  • possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis flower in a public place or 1.5 pounds in a person's residence;
  • possess or transport no more than 8 grams of adult-use cannabis concentrate;
  • possess or transport edible products infused with up to 800 milligrams of THC;
  • give away cannabis flower and cannabinoid products in an amount that is legal for a person to possess in public;
  • use cannabis flower and cannabinoid products in private areas; and
  • cultivate up to eight cannabis plants, of which four or fewer may be mature, flowering plants.
What legal marijuana could look like in Minnesota 02:00
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