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Minn. Lawmakers Introduce Bills To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Two Minnesota state lawmakers are introducing legislation to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

If made law, Minnesota would join eight other states that allow the legal sale and use of marijuana.

The author of the one of the measures introduced Wednesday, Rep. Jon Applebaum of Minnetonka, says that, to millennials, legalizing marijuana is not controversial. The second-term lawmaker says support for legal marijuana is growing in states across the country, including Minnesota.

"Eventually this is going to happen," he said. "And it would be in Minnesota's best interest if we start talking about it now."

Applebaum's bill would allow Minnesotans over age 21 to use, possess and buy up to one ounce of marijuana beginning in 2019. It also regulates growing, harvesting and retail sales, creating what he hopes can be a "Made in Minnesota" economy.

"I envision an economy being created where cannabis products are grown by Minnesota farmers, transported by Minnesota carriers, and sold by Minnesota small businesses," he said.

But critics say marijuana is not harmless, calling it a "gateway" drug. Rep. Tony Cornish, a 32-year law enforcement veteran and the chair of House Public Safety Committee, says legalizing pot fuels crime and addiction.

A second bill to legalize marijuana through a constitutional amendment was introduced Wednesday by DFL Rep. Tina Liebling, of Rochester.

Do the bills stand a chance at becoming law? Not likely this year.

Still, Applebaum believes legalization is coming, and the state Legislature needs to start discussing how to do it.

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