After months of debate, the Minnesota legislature passed a sweeping bill to legalize marijuana in the state. The House passed the final bill last Thursday while the Senate approved it Saturday by only two votes, 34 to 32, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Gov. Tim Walz has pledged to sign it. The bill would legalize the possession and use of marijuana for Minnesotans 21 and older. It would create a new state agency, called the Office of Cannabis Management, tasked with licensing cannabis and hemp businesses and overseeing a legal recreational market, as well as the existing medical cannabis and hemp-derived markets. The bill mandates the expungement of all misdemeanor marijuana offenses and creates a Cannabis Expungement Board to review felony offenses for possible expungement on a case-by-case basis.
Minnesota House researcher Ben Johnson said Aug. 1 is the key date for cannabis legalization. Sen. Lindsey Port has said it will likely be 12 to 16 months before legal retail sales begin. Virtually all of the bill’s changes to the state’s medical cannabis program take effect on March 1, 2025. Consuming marijuana products in any form would be prohibited in motor vehicles, on school property and in state correctional facilities. The bill would impose a 10% tax rate on the sale of cannabis products. By fiscal year 2027, the Minnesota Department of Revenue estimates that recreational marijuana sales would generate about $107 million in annual tax revenue for the state and roughly $21.5 million for local governments. The bill would also create a Division of Social Equity within the Office of Cannabis Management, which is charged with providing outreach and services to communities disproportionately affected by cannabis prohibition.