High hopes for a conversation on cannabis nipped in the bud

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard a bill this week that would create a system to legalize, sell, and regulate the use of recreational cannabis.

Authors of the bill argue that public opinion on recreational cannabis is already ahead of the law and that the state deserves to have a conversation on legalization. Proponents of the bill argue that legalization benefits the health of many Minnesotans, that it is safer than alcohol and tobacco, that it will shrink the existing black market, and that it may be a strong source of revenue for the state.

Opponents of the bill argue that Minnesota is not ready for recreational cannabis and that the public health risks are too high to legalize it without further study on the effects of cannabis and that states that have legalized recreational cannabis are only starting to see some of the negative effects it has on their citizens.

The bill contains a system for growth, taxation, regulation of sales, and expungement of records for those with a nonviolent criminal history related to small amounts of cannabis.

Unfortunately, the conversation burned out when Senate Republicans rejected every attempt to pass the legislation or continue the conversation. Senate Republicans refused to move the bill forward to the next committee or lay it over for further discussion in the Judiciary Committee. They also voted against setting up a task force to study legalization.

It is unlikely that recreational cannabis will come up again this session. (SF 619)