After a series of amendments, a legalization bill has finally been approved in Minnesota. Democrat-Farmer-Labor party officials are confident that we will be looking at cannabis legalization being enacted sooner rather than later. Here are the quick points you need to know.
“Cannabis Should Not Be Illegal In Minnesota.”
“Minnesotans deserve the freedom and respect to make responsible decisions about cannabis themselves. Our current laws are doing more harm than good. Our bill will create a safe, well-regulated, legal marketplace where Minnesotans can grow, sell and buy cannabis if they choose to do so.” Rep. Zack Stephenson, sponsored chairperson of the House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee.
The current bill has seen its fair share of revisions leading up to its approval. Much of the current revised bill is consistent with Majority Leader Ryan Winkler’s legislation, although there are some key changes made to the revised bill along with newly adopted amendments.
The newly revised bill adds a new license category for businesses that sell “lower-potency” edible products. Licensees would also benefit from reduced regulatory requirements and could permit on-site consumption if they have liquor licenses, ensuring that shops selling low-THC beverages wouldn’t face disruption.
Tribal representatives would also be included on a new Cannabis Advisory Council that will be established. Packaging requirements warning users about consumption by pregnant and breastfeeding women are also included in the new bill.
Another amendment is that regulators would be required to include a section in their annual reports on adverse health effects and risks related to secondhand exposure to cannabis products.
The committee rejected a change suggesting that local governments would be responsible for licensing retailers, microbusinesses, lower potency edible retailers, and medical cannabis retailers.
What To Expect
Legalization dates haven’t been confirmed yet, mainly because the objective as it stands is to ensure adequate supply that meets demands once sales become legal. The challenge is that it can take up to 9 months or more to take a plant from seed to cultivation, so we don’t have an exact timeline because of cultivation delays.
Apart from growing pains, there are also other complexities to take into consideration, like licensure. Because of the different hurdles, we’re likely looking at widespread availability happening sometime in 2025.
The bill clearly states that cannabis and cannabinoid products would not be allowed for people 21 years or younger. Usage on private property or places with licenses or permitted events would be allowed.
Smoking cannabis would not be allowed in moving vehicles, and possession would still be forbidden on school grounds, school buses, correctional facilities, or during the operation of heavy machinery.
Local governments can’t enact or enforce regulations prohibiting the use or sale of cannabis products, but they are allowed to regulate the time, place, and manner of sale. They would also be able to bar cannabis-based businesses from locating too close to schools, churches, nursing homes, etc.
An 8% point-of-purchase gross receipts tax would be placed on top of standard sales tax, meaning that we should expect a tax rate of around 15% on cannabis sales. While taxes would go into the general treasury, the goal would be to cover regulatory costs and connected programs like substance abuse prevention programs and treatment programs.
The bill would create a new state entity called the Office of Cannabis Management that would oversee and regulate the market, and other state agencies would play a role in performing criminal background checks for licensees, monitoring cannabis growth, and setting water, waste, and environmental standards.
Prospects for the bill to prevail in the house are strong, but we can’t be certain until it comes down to the vote. Read more on cannabis legalization in America and abroad here.
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