Diverse Interest Groups Unite to Oppose Recreational Marijuana Legalization in Minnesota – Twin Cities
Several businesses, trade groups and social organizations on Monday announced the formation of a coalition opposing the legalization of recreational marijuana in Minnesota as supporters of the measure signal new momentum on the issue ahead of the start of the legislative session next week.
The proposal passed in the last session of the Democratic-controlled House with several Republican votes after gaining support from some GOP lawmakers during its run through a dozen committees, making it the first time the either house votes on the matter. The bill would legalize marijuana use for adults and overturn minor cannabis convictions in an effort to address inequities in marijuana arrests and convictions among white and black residents despite similar rates of use.
The coalition, called Minnesotans Against Marijuana Legalization, is made up of the Minnesota Trucking Association, the Association of State Police and Peace Officers, and the Minnesota Catholic Conference, a political arm of the Catholic Church in Minnesota, among others.
The groups echoed concerns from Republican lawmakers that the potential for more drivers under the influence and the lack of marijuana road tests for law enforcement would make roads less safe. They also fear that the increase in marijuana use could lead to failed workplace drug tests and impaired workplaces, which would exacerbate worker shortages already experienced due to of the pandemic.
“The marijuana bill that passed the Minnesota House in the last session was not a justice bill, it was a marijuana marketing bill,” he said. said Ryan Hamilton of the Minnesota Catholic Conference at a news conference Monday. “As we’ve seen in other states that have opened the doors to the marijuana industry, promises made to justify marijuana legalization rarely come true, especially for communities of color.”
The bill is technically still alive, though it’s unclear whether Senate Republicans will pass the measure. House Democratic Majority Leader Ryan Winkler of Golden Valley, the lead author of the bill, told the Minnesota Hemp Growers Cooperative at an event Wednesday that his goal was to re-examine parts of the bill. bill this session to improve the proposal and try to get senators on board, though a floor vote in the Senate remains “pending,” he said.
Leili Fatehi, campaign manager at Minnesotans for Responsible Marijuana Regulation, said she thinks the chances of the bill getting a floor vote or hearing in the GOP-controlled Senate are ” almost zero”. But, she said, the issue is popular with voters regardless of political party, and elections later this year will allow voters to hold lawmakers accountable.
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have already legalized recreational marijuana for adults to varying degrees, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Minnesota is one of many states that allows medical marijuana, but its restrictions are among the strictest in the country.
In even-numbered years, lawmakers are traditionally tasked with putting together a package of infrastructure borrowing known as the bond bill, but a huge projected surplus of $7.7 billion will be the center of attention. when the session convenes on January 31.