(ABC 6 News) — In the first week of the 2023 legislative session, several lawmakers in the federal parliament introduced a bill to legalize marijuana in Minnesota.
With Democrats controlling both chambers, many believe marijuana legalization is a real possibility. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz also expressed support for the bill.
“Minnesota residents are ready and I think 2023 is the year we will legalize adult use of cannabis in Minnesota,” said co-author of the bill, Rep. Zack Stephenson of Coon Rapids.
By law, Minnesotans over the age of 21 will be able to purchase and possess marijuana for recreational use.
The proposal states that people are allowed to possess two ounces of marijuana in public and five pounds in the home.
Rep. Stephenson added, “I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that we have engaged in among the most powerful law development processes of any legislation in the history of the legislature.”
Companies like The CBD Joint have been ready for this type of regulation since July.
“It’s a long time coming and people should be able to do whatever they want, as long as they do it responsibly,” said store manager Peter Andrews. “Yeah, it’s a great step forward.”
Andrews says it’s a great opportunity to introduce small, local businesses into the industry.
“Up until now, you’ve just had these really big companies with medical licenses, and now little kids can get into it, which is great,” Andrews added.
Several groups strongly oppose the bill.
“The whole idea of rationing is problematic,” said Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson.
The legislation is reckless and premature for Minnesota, he says, adding that his main concern is the high rates of impaired driving.
“Someone can smoke while driving very easily and that’s a problem,” Sheriff Torgerson explained.
Right now, he explains, there is no roadside testing for marijuana vulnerability, adding that Minnesota roads will be more dangerous than ever.
“Know that more people in our state will die because of disabled drivers. There will be more drivers with disabilities on the road.”
The first public hearing on the bill is scheduled for January 11, in the House Commerce Committee.