The Minnesota State Senate Judiciary Committee overwhelmingly voted to kill a bill that would have legalized recreational marijuana throughout the state Monday.
Senate Bill, SF 619, would have made it legal for individuals “21 years of age or older to cultivate, consume, use, and possess cannabis, cannabis products, and cannabis accessories,” as well as modify several other laws to accommodate the legislation. The bill was authored and sponsored by State Senators Melisa Franzen (49, DFL), Scott M. Jensen (47, R), Foung Hawj (67, DFL), and Minority Whip Ann H. Rest (45, DFL).
After being introduced on January 28th, the bill was immediately referred to Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee. After due consideration, the Committee voted not only to reject the bill but refused to send it to another committee or authorize any form of study on effects of it. Both of these maneuvers are common legislative procedures used to keep bills alive by buying them more time without bringing them to a vote. This effectively killed the bill and ensured it would not be revisited for some time. The nine-member committee voted 6-3, along party lines, against it.
Governor Tim Walz, in an interview with MPRNews, expressed his disappointment with the decision, stating:
We certainly didn’t have an honest debate. We didn’t even have a floor vote on it… What we had is a committee saying we killed it and it’s dead in a small out of the corner room. I don’t come to this lightly, I campaigned for two years and this is what Minnesotans were talking about.
In August of 2018, the Governor stated his support for legalization on Twitter.
I support legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use by developing a system of taxation, guaranteeing that it is Minnesota grown, and expunging the records of Minnesotans convicted of marijuana crimes. #mngov #OneMinnesota
— Tim Walz (@Tim_Walz) August 10, 2018
Currently, ten states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana. However, the substance still remains a Schedule 1 Drug in the eyes of the Federal Government, meaning “The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse. The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical treatment use in the U.S. It has a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.” This is the highest restriction the Federal government can place on a drug.
Those hopeful that recreational marijuana will live to fight another day in Minnesota are not likely to see this happen anytime soon. Despite Governor Walz’s effusive endorsement, the failure of this bill seems to have set its supporters back a great deal. In an interview with Minnesota Public Radio, State Senator Melisa Franzen stated she felt the legislation was “dead” and didn’t seem hopeful that it would be introduced. It is unlikely to be revived again before the 2020 election.
– – –