National magazine says Minnesota has 'very strong' chance of legalizing recreational marijuana in 2019

December 30, 2018 10:17 PM

Forbes Magazine likes Minnesota's chances of legalizing recreational marijuana in the upcoming 2019 Legislative session.

Forbes put Minnesota on a list of eight states with a "very good chance" of legalizing recreational marijuana, because Governor-elect Tim Walz supports it and his political party, the DFL, just gained control of the House of Representatives.

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Walz also wants the state to expunge all criminal records for people who've been convicted of violating low-level marijuana laws as part of the legalization package.

But, despite the optimism from Forbes, Hamline University political expert David Schultz told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the marijuana legislation will still probably be a "long shot" in 2019.


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"There are quite a few questions that will need answering before the final proposed legislation is written," Schultz said.  "They will have to determine how legalization will work, first of all, because it could be just personal use, like Alaska, or commercial use for tax purposes."

Schultz said there will be other priorities that will come long before any marijuana legislation is taken up, because the DFL has to be careful with the people who kept them in the governor's office and in control of the House.

"Suburban voters, primarily female suburban voters, put the DFL in the position it is in right now at the Capitol," Schultz said.  "I am not sure legalizing marijuana will be one of the high priorities those voters will want the DFL to pursue over other, more pressing, issues."

Schultz said there will be questions about where the tax revenue raised from the sales of legalized cannabis will be spent and what are the possible health-related issues that might arise from prolonged marijuana use.

"Right now, we really don't have those answers and the public will want to hear them as the bill is being talked about," Schultz said.  "Remember, even though we recently legalized medicinal marijuana, Minnesota still has some of the strictest regulations surrounding its use."

Schultz said he expects a bill will be introduced this session, which starts in January, but this year will see hearings and fact gathering before a vote is taken.

"I think, if I had to guess, this year will be putting the process in place and fine-tuning the legislation," Schultz said. "This is something lawmakers will not be inclined to rush and they will want to make sure they've vetted this thoroughly before they vote."

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