As we observe the legislative activities concerning the legalization of Marijuana/Cannabis for recreational use we find it interesting to hear supporters using words like time has come or inevitable when discussing a change in the law as an expected complete reversal. We also believe any proposal to push the idea to the voters as a Constitutional Amendment, as we understand Rep Raymond Dehn (DFL-59B, Minneapolis) has discussed, as a cowardly approach allowing legislators to shirk their responsibility to pass laws, and this issue doesn’t belong in the State Constitution in the first place.
Today, we followed the roundtable meeting between Attorney General Keith Ellison’s (DFL-MN) office and the various groups taking a public stand on the legalization issue. Ellison who originally, was thought to attend was not present. At the meeting in the Attorney General’s located in the old Bremer tower in downtown St Paul, Keaon Dousti Outreach Coordinator for Ellison Office met with representatives of various groups. We understand the intent of the meeting was to gather together all of the interested parties who had sought contact with the AG’s office and provide a venue for dialogue
People we know to have been present included Minnesota Campaign for Full Legalization; Marcus Harcus, Save MN/420 Coalition; Rekoe Howard, Tom Gallagher, Treasurer of both political candidates Michael Ford (Legalize Marijuana Now) and Noah M Johnson also in attendance (Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis) Oliver Steinberg and other various advocates along with an opposition group (Smart Approaches to Marijuana-Minnesota Chapter); Kim Bemis.
As we survey the actual legislation that has been brought forward, we are still unable to find any legislator willing to carry the “Model” legislation crafted by the coalition under the guidance of Harcus, but legislation developed by the Marijuana Policy Project, where similar legislation has passed in other states exists in bill form. Rep Mike Freiberg (DFL-45B, Golden Valley) is the Chief Author of HF0420 a cannabis; cultivation, consumption, use, and possession of products bill, headed for the Health and Human Services Policy Committee chaired by Rep Rena Moran (DFL-65A, St Paul) with a companion bill SF0619 authored by Sen Melisa Franzen (DFL49, Edina). Because Franzen is in the minority, normally her bill would not get a hearing, but her 2nd author is Sen Scott Jensen (R-47, Chaska) has signed on and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-09, Nisswa) has said he will not block the bill, but will not vote for it.
Other legislative items we found interesting are a bill by the Chair of the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Division, Rep Carlos Mariani (DFL-65B, St Paul) has authored HR0717 calling for a Cannabis taskforce and Heath and Human Services Finance Committee Chair Rep Tina Liebling (DFL-26A, Rochester) her own legislation HF0465 allowing for possession of cannabis-based products for persons over the age of 21.
In large part, as we listen to the words of the leaders in both Houses, we are skeptical in the belief a legalization bill will arrive at Governor Tim Walz’ (DFL-MN) desk this legislative session. Along with the sentiments of Gazelka, Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman (DFL-36B, Brooklyn Park) has said she doesn’t see it as a priority for her chamber this legislative session.