Minnesota Governor Promises Marijuana Legalization Will Be One Of First Bills Passed Under Newly-Flipped Legislature

Minnesota Governor Promises Marijuana Legalization Will Be One Of First Bills Passed Under Newly-Flipped Legislature

Come next year, Minnesota may be the next state to legalize marijuana.

Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) flipped the state Senate on Tuesday, securing a trifecta for the first time in nearly a decade: both chambers of the state legislature and the governorship. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz reportedly told former Governor Jesse Ventura in a phone call that marijuana legalization would be one of the first bills passed through this trifecta.

“The sticking point for cannabis in Minnesota were the Republicans and the house they controlled,” stated Ventura. “Well, they’ve lost it now, and the governor reassured me that one of the first items that will be passed — Minnesota, get ready — cannabis is going to have its prohibition lifted.”

Ventura added that Walz also invited him to the bill’s signing. The former governor has reportedly attempted to legalize marijuana for 20 years.

Based on Walz’s remarks this year, the governor may also have an eye on expunging marijuana convictions in the state. Walz’s vision preceded President Joe Biden’s mass pardon of those convicted of simple marijuana possession last month.

It’s time to legalize adult-use cannabis and expunge cannabis convictions in Minnesota.

— Governor Tim Walz (@GovTimWalz) April 20, 2022

Legalization of the drug advances as more questions arise among legislators and medical professionals on the connection between marijuana usage and mental illness.

Just last weekend, pop star icon Aaron Carter was discovered dead in his bathtub. Carter stated three days prior that he’d been “California sober” for five years — abstaining from all drugs except cannabis and prescribed pharmaceuticals like Xanax. Carter had a lengthy history of addiction and mental illness.

Walz’s initiative wouldn’t be transitioning Minnesota from total prohibition to full legalization of the drug. He directed state agencies to form policies that could be implemented upon legalization.

According to the state’s legislative reference library, the legislature legalized medical marijuana in 2014, but consumption could only take place through pills, oils, or vapor initially. Then last year, the state relaxed this law to allow the smoking of dried marijuana leaves and consumption of “edibles” (gummies and chews). The latter went into effect in August.

The state qualifies 17 conditions for medical marijuana usage: Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), autism spectrum disorder (must meet DSM-5), cancer, chronic motor or vocal tic disorder, chronic pain, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, inflammatory bowel disease (e.g., Crohn’s disease), intractable pain, obstructive sleep apnea, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), seizures (e.g., epilepsy), severe and persistent muscle spasms (e.g., multiple sclerosis, or MS), sickle cell disease, terminal illness with a life expectancy of under one year, and Tourette Syndrome.

Those with cancer or a terminal illness must have one or more of the following symptoms: severe or chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or cachexia or severe wasting.

The legislature also implemented a law earlier this year allowing individuals over 21 to purchase products containing five or less milligrams of the psychoactive drug THC derived from hemp. Marijuana and hemp are the same species — the primary difference exists in their THC content. Hemp has 0.3 percent or less THC, while marijuana has over 0.3 percent, therefore resulting in the drug’s typical high.

November 6 marked the tenth anniversary of Colorado and Washington becoming the first states to legalize recreational marijuana. Since then, Washington, D.C., Guam, and 19 states have followed suit: Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.

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