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Law enforcement raise concerns about recreational marijuana: "How can we keep the public safe?"

Law enforcement raise concerns about recreational marijuana
Law enforcement raise concerns about recreational marijuana 01:49

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Law enforcement Thursday raised strong concerns about a plan to legalize recreational marijuana in Minnesota.

WCCO's Esme Murphy reports on a committee hearing that was slow on moving forward and high on drama.

Without saying anything, Republican Rep. Patricia Mueller of Austin dipped under the Public Safety committee desk.

"So this is five pounds I am allowed to use props in committee," Mueller said, with a bag. "In the bill, you are allowed to have five pounds for personal use and I won't go through all of it, but that is literally 6,800 joints."

Rep. Mueller did not say exactly what was in those bags.

DFL Representative Zach Stephenson, the author of the legalization bill, fired back.

"You mentioned 6,000 joints. I could have 6,000 bottles of Grain Belt Premium in my basement and violate no law whatsoever," Stephenson said.

Rep. Mueller's amendment to lower the amount for personal use from five pounds to one was voted down.

The House Public Safety Committee did hear from law enforcement who expressed opposition.

Chief Jay Henthorne of Richfield testified on behalf of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association.

"Make no mistake, the bill will lead to major traffic safety concerns and we will see a stark increase in traffic-related deaths," said Henthorne.

Sheriff Kevin Torgerson testified for the Minnesota Sheriff's Association.

"How can we keep the public safe when the legalized marijuana is available to have before we have an authorized testing procedure," Torgerson said. "Isn't that like buying a car without safety features?"

There were those who testified in favor of the bill but it is the detailed concerns of law enforcement that are among the issues even supporters question. 

Meanwhile, the legalization continues to make its way through the legislature.

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