ST. PETER, Minn. (KEYC) — Lawmakers are already looking at potentially crafting Minnesota cannabis legislation when the session begins next year in St. Paul.
Wednesday night, St. Peter community members joined local lawmakers in a statewide conversation on cannabis that House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler launched this summer.
The aim is to include local voices in the effort, called “Be Heard on Cannabis,” as legislators explore the issue and potentially move ahead with legislation framework next session.
Winkler said he is looking at framework from the standpoint of economic development, public health, public safety and regulation and taxation structure.
“We want to make sure that youth are not able to access cannabis, like they can today, and we want to make sure that people like veterans are able to access cannabis for health purposes," he said.
Veteran Jeremy Sankey uses medical cannabis for pain.
He said he is a proponent of legislation.
“It totally changes the medical program and it’s a game changer for patients, but at the same time, people who want to use it for adult personal use should be able to," he said.
Winkler added that people have come forward on multiple sides of the conversation.
“We’ve also heard consistent concerns about driving under the influence," he said.
Winkler said he wants to make sure that there are additional protections on the road as they move toward a legalized, regulated marketplace.
Sen. Nick Frentz (DFL-North Mankato) said he wants to hear more on public safety and public health.
“But it also has a social justice component, which is we have to have the decriminalization of marijuana to be fully explored so that everyone’s treated equally and we don’t put any one population in greater danger of incarceration," he said.
And Rep. Jeff Brand (DFL-St. Peter) said he wants to pay attention to resources.
“It’s making sure the program pays for itself, and what I mean by that is making sure that there’s enough resources for law enforcement, not just state patrol but also the local police departments and sheriff departments," he said.
This was the eighth stop on the tour with stops planned in Austin and Rochester in the coming weeks.
Information on those stops can be found here.