Minnesota Senate passes adult-use marijuana legalization bill – barely

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The Minnesota Senate decided by a single vote to advance an adult-use marijuana legalization bill, but more work is required before legalization can head to Gov. Tim Walz to become law.

Legalization is a priority for the Democratic Farmer-Labor (DFL) party – the Minnesota affiliate of the national Democratic Party – which controls both chambers of the state Legislature as well as the governor’s office.

Walz has said he’ll sign a legalization bill into law if lawmakers can pass one.

Three days after the state House of Representatives voted to pass an adult-use legalization bill following months of committee hearings, the Senate voted late Friday to approve a companion bill on a party-line vote, 34-33.

All Republicans voted against the bill, citing concerns over increased crime, youth use and other supposed negative impacts of legalization.

Since the Senate and House bills differ on key points, including taxation, both will head this week to a conference committee where a final compromise bill will be negotiated, the Star Tribune reported.

A negotiated bill will then have to be returned to both chambers for final approval before going to Walz for a signature.

Key points of the two bills include:

  • The Senate measure’s tax rate is 10%; the House’s imposes an 8% gross-receipts tax on cannabis sales.
  • Licensing details, including permit caps, would be left to a state regulatory agency the bills would create.
  • Both measures would provide relatively generous home cultivation allowances, with adults 21 and older permitted to grow up to four mature plants and possess anywhere from 1½ pounds to 5 pounds.