Minnesota Moves Closer to Cannabis Legalization as Senate Committee Approves Bill

The Minnesota Senate Rules and Administration Committee has given the green light to a marijuana legalization bill, bringing the state one step closer to legalizing cannabis. Sen. Lindsey Port (D) authored the legislation, which now has only two more committees to clear before reaching the Senate floor. This development comes just a week after the House companion version, sponsored by Rep. Zack Stephenson (D), advanced through its 14th committee.

Port stated, “We have been thoughtful and methodical on our work on this legislation—and we’re being diligent and including all stakeholders as we craft this legislation.” Both the Senate and House bills have undergone numerous amendments throughout the process, with lawmakers incorporating public feedback, revising tax structures, and refining language to establish a well-regulated Minnesota cannabis market.

The comprehensive substitute, primarily addressing concerns from industry stakeholders operating under last year’s low-THC edibles law, was adopted by a Senate panel in March. The House bill underwent major revisions in committee, adopting a series of amendments to better align the two versions. However, a bicameral conference committee will likely need to convene to address outstanding differences once the full House and Senate act on their respective versions.

Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) party officials are confident that marijuana legalization in Minnesota will be enacted swiftly following the extensive committee consideration, given that they hold majorities in both the House and Senate, as well as control over the governorship. In January, Gov. Tim Walz (D) released his biennial budget request, which included proposed funding for marijuana legalization and expungements, and estimated millions of dollars in cannabis tax revenue for the state after the reform is enacted.

The advancing legislation is based on the 2021 House-passed bill from former Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (D), who currently serves as campaign chairman of the advocacy coalition MN is Ready. The governor has called on supporters to join lawmakers and the administration in pushing for marijuana legalization in Minnesota this session and circulated an email blast in January encouraging people to sign a petition supporting the reform.

The revised bills share many similarities with Winkler’s legislation, though some key changes include a new license category for businesses selling “lower-potency edible products,” reduced regulatory requirements for those licensees, and allowing on-site consumption for businesses with a liquor license.

The Senate bill’s next stop is the Taxes Committee, while the House version is heading to the Ways and Means Committee. The revised marijuana legalization bills, HF 100 and SF 73, outline the main components of cannabis reform in Minnesota, such as permitting adults 21 and older to purchase up to two ounces of cannabis, cultivate up to eight plants, and possess up to two ounces in a public place and up to five pounds in a private dwelling. Other provisions include promoting social equity, automatically expunging prior marijuana records, permitting on-site consumption, and taxing retail cannabis sales at eight percent.

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