DFL Lawmakers Introduce House Bill 420 to Legalize Marijuana in Minnesota

DFL lawmakers took the first concrete steps to legalize recreational marijuana in Minnesota Monday by introducing companion bills in the Minnesota House and Senate.

House File (HF) 420, sponsored by Rep. Mike Freiberg (D-Golden Valley), and Senate File (619), sponsored by Sen. Melissa Franzen (D-Edina), would make it legal in the state of Minnesota for a person “ 21 years of age or older” to “cultivate, possess, purchase, transfer, use, and consume cannabis, cannabis products, and cannabis accessories.”

The House version of the bill already has 15 co-sponsors, while the Senate version has just two, though one is Republican Sen. Scott Jensen (R-Chaska).

The bills would allow employers to adopt a policy that “prohibits the consumption of cannabis or cannabis products in the workplace” or working “while under the influence of cannabis.” They would not, however, allow an employer to “discipline or discriminate against an employee or prospective employee because the employee or prospective employee has metabolites of cannabis in the employee’s or prospective employee’s blood.”

Additionally, with some exceptions, residential landlords would not be allowed to prohibit “the possession of cannabis or cannabis products or the consumption of cannabis or cannabis products by nonsmoking means by a tenant who is 21 years of age or older.”

Local governments could be allowed to adopt city ordinances that ban the “establishment of retail cannabis stories or cannabis product manufacturing facilities in the jurisdiction of local government” if the “governing body of the local government determines the ordinances or regulations are necessary to protect the public health.”

Freiberg and Franzen will have to get their bills past a Republican-controlled Senate, but have the support of Gov. Tim Walz (D-MN), who is in favor legalizing marijuana.

The way things are going, legalized recreational cannabis is coming to Minnesota sooner rather than later. We need to approach this with smart, public-health focused policy that safely establishes legalized cannabis without creating a new Big Tobacco,” Freiberg said during a Monday press conference. “Legalized recreational cannabis has been rapidly growing in popularity, and it’s time for Minnesota to prepare itself by starting this conversation at the legislature.”

The companion bills would also expunge the records of individuals convicted of non-violent offenses related to marijuana possession. Attorney General Keith Ellison (D-MN) would be responsible for identifying “past convictions that qualify for expungement.”

The state has both a public health and safety interest in regulating and educating Minnesotans on the effects of the use of cannabis in order to provide the necessary oversight and legal framework moving forward,” Franzen said Monday. “I will tackle this issue with an open mind, and I am not working on this issue to appease any particular interest group. My intent is that we treat smoking cannabis similar to cigarettes and uphold the Clean Indoor Act while regulating all aspects of cannabis use.”

In their current forms, the bills, if passed, wouldn’t take effect until December 31, 2021.

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].





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