ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Two Democratic state lawmakers plan to introduce bills to legalize recreational marijuana in Minnesota. Rep. Jon Applebaum of Minnetonka and Rep. Tina Liebling of Rochester want to add Minnesota to the list of 8 states that currently allow recreational marijuana sales and use.
The proposals will likely fail in the state's Republican-controlled Legislature, and in a conference call with Capitol reporters Wednesday, Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton said he did not support Rep. Applebaum's bill.
Applebaum's bill: Money for schools
Rep. Applebaum wants recreational marijuana to be regulated like alcohol in Minnesota, and hopes the state can capitalize on the multi-million-dollar marijuana economy. Like Colorado, Applebaum would like to see tax revenues from marijuana sales put toward public school funding.
"Ultimately, I envision a billion dollar 'Made in Minnesota' marijuana economy, where the products are grown by Minnesota farmers, distributed by Minnesota companies, and sold by Minnesota small business owners," Rep. Applebaum said in a statement. "Ideally, all tax proceeds would be directed towards funding Minnesota's public schools and would result in lower taxes for Minnesota families."
Liebling's bill: Money for chemical dependency and mental health
Rep. Liebling's bill will introduce a constitutional amendment, letting Minnesota voters decide whether or not to legalize recreational marijuana. Under her proposal, tax revenue from recreational marijuana would go toward chemical dependency treatment and mental health education and treatment.
"Minnesotans know that the prohibition on cannabis is costly, harmful and antiquated," Liebling said in a statement. "Estimates of the cost of cannabis enforcement in Minnesota range from $42 million a year for possession offenses alone to $137 million a year for all cannabis arrests. Yet Minnesotans spend perhaps $700 million a year on cannabis, indirectly helping fund crime through an enormous black market. All this for a substance that -- while not harmless -- is far safer than alcohol. My bill would let citizens decide whether it is time to try a different path--one already successfully paved by many other states."
Proposed recreational marijuana rules
Rep. Applebaum's bill would allow Minnesotans aged 21 and over to use, possess or purchase up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use. The bill also proposes a framework for the licensing and regulation of marijuana cultivation, harvesting, processing and retail sale, which would begin in 2019. Minnesotans would also be permitted to grow up to 6 marijuana plants at a time, with 3 or fewer being mature.
The use of marijuana in public places would be illegal, and driving under the influence of marijuana would be illegal.
Rep. Liebling's bill will include "comprehensive policies that allow for a robust, competitive market in which small producers and sellers can participate, assure purchasers that the product is uncontaminated and properly labeled, allow adults to cultivate cannabis for personal use, and protect youth from exposure."
Newest recreational states
On Election Day last November, California voters approved a proposition to allow the recreational use of marijuana Tuesday as other states, including Nevada and Florida, expanded legal access to the drug. READ MORE
"The world is changing, and Minnesotans are rightfully developing different attitudes on marijuana," Rep. Applebaum said. "Other states' successes, along with the failed prohibition attempts of others, have validated the need for a statewide conversation on legalizing the personal, recreational use of marijuana."
Minnesota's medical marijuana law
Medical marijuana became legal in Minnesota on July 1, 2015 after a bill full of restrictions and regulations passed the Legislature in 2014. Last year, the state added intractable pain to the list of qualifying conditions, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will be added to the list on Aug. 1, 2017.