Minnesota Senate passes recreational marijuana bill
Three days after it was approved by the Minnesota House of Representatives, the Minnesota Senate followed suit and passed the recreational cannabis bill on Friday, 34-33.
The legislation has been one of the most high-profile and closely watched bills of the session.
DFL lawmakers — who control both chambers of the Legislature — and Gov. Tim Walz have expressed support for the bill.
With the Senate’s approval, a small group of lawmakers will now have to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill before it can go to the governor to be signed into law.
Because DFL holds just a one-seat majority in the Senate and all Republicans in the chamber voted against it, it needed support from all of the DFL senators.
“Our caucus has been talking about this for quite some time and what we’ve come down to after our analysis is this bill simply isn’t enough. Not enough for public safety, not enough for public health and our local governments are really, really are at the bad end of the stick on this,” Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson said during a press conference Friday morning.
“This bill is premature, it is just not ready,” Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) added, citing opposition from law enforcement and limited control for local governments as some of the reasons the caucus doesn’t support the bill.
A recent KSTP/SurveyUSA poll found 58% of Minnesotans surveyed support full legalization of recreational marijuana, 26% want it to remain against the law and 15% weren’t sure.
Johnson noted the growing support for legalizing recreational marijuana but said his caucus believes the current bill “is such a convoluted bill” and needs more work before it gets approved.
DFL lawmakers and advocates say Minnesotans deserve the ability to make decisions on cannabis themselves, adding that the state’s current laws disproportionately impact people of color.
When it becomes law, lawmakers say Minnesota will be the 23rd state to allow recreational marijuana.