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Talking Points: Gov. Walz, Sen. Gazelka On Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) -- Could recreational marijuana soon be legal in Minnesota?

A discussion on legalizing pot for recreational purposes in Minnesota may be coming to your hometown.

Last week Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz took the unprecedented step of ordering state departments to prepare for eventual legalization.

House Majority leader Rep. Ryan Winkler is kicking off a 15-community tour to discuss the possibility, and Winkler says he will be the author of the bill in the next legislative session.

Legalized recreational pot has a powerful supporter in Walz. The governor campaigned on the issue and this past week he ordered state agencies to get ready to handle legal pot from all perspectives including revenue, law enforcement and regulation.

The Governor was a guest on WCCO Sunday Morning Live! At The State Fair.

"What I have asked for is let's learn lessons learned. We had folks in from Colorado and Oregon to tell us what worked what didn't. Should we be ready to do it, we will do it the right way --from a revenue perspective, from a health perspective, from a Department of Public Safety Perspective," Walz said.

While Democrats obviously control the governor's office and the Minnesota House, they do not control the Minnesota Senate, where Republicans have a thin majority and the Senate GOP leader is saying "no" to recreational marijuana. Sen. Paul Gazelka was also a guest on WCCO Sunday Morning Live! At The State Fair.

"It's not going to happen. We did hearings in the Senate last session and brought in people from Colorado. The committee voted 6-3 to defeat recreational marijuana," Gazelka said. "When we looked at Colorado, they had 7 % more accidents -- they went up -- homeless rates went up, productivity went down, mental health problems. Why would we do it in Minnesota?"

A bill that would have legalized recreational marijuana died in the GOP-controlled Senate earlier this year. The sponsor of that bill Democratic Sen. Melissa Franzen says a legalization bill won't pass unless Democrats also control the Minnesota Senate. Voters will decide that one -- The entire Minnesota Senate and House are up for re-election in 2020.

A link of the partial schedule for those community meetings on legalizing marijuana is available here. The first meeting is in Duluth on Sept. 21.




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