Local lawmakers share thoughts, concerns on proposal to legalize recreational marijuana

Local lawmakers share thoughts, concerns on proposal to legalize recreational marijuana

MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - Minnesota House Democrats have launched a push to legalize recreational marijuana and expunge most minor cannabis convictions.

If passed, Minnesota would join several states that have given the green light to similar legislation.

That includes the states that passed it on the November ballot, including neighboring South Dakota.

House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler framed the issue at a news conference Monday as crucial to narrow racial disparities in the legal system, something Sen. Nick Frentz (DFL - North Mankato) said he agrees with.

“I support lessening criminal penalties for minor, nonviolent marijuana offenses. I think that’s smart policy,” he said.

The bill would also bar sales to people under 21 and keep all impaired driving and Clean Air Act laws in place.

Revenues would fund substance abuse treatment and public health awareness.

But Frentz and Rep. Jeremy Munson (R - Lake Crystal) both have concerns about the proposed bill.

“For me, one of the concerns that I’ve gathered from the district is that an employer should have the right to drug test their employee,” Munson said.

“I’ve always had concerns about legal recreational marijuana due mostly to public safety and public health reasons,” said Frentz.

The proposal is unlikely to get very far in the GOP-controlled Senate, where Majority Leader Paul Gazelka has reiterated his opposition.

But the discussion surrounding medical cannabis will likely resume this session.

Munson has introduced two bills related to medical cannabis, including one that would prohibit the state from sharing the names of medical cannabis patients to the federal government so that they do not lose their right to own guns.

Another would request the federal government to reclassify cannabis since it has a medical purpose.

Munson said he plans to host a town hall this Thursday to discuss various topics including legalizing marijuana at 8:00 p.m.

More details will be released when they are available.

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