A marijuana bill is continuing to advance in the Minnesota House and has already cleared half a dozen committees.
The bill, which would legalize recreational adult use of marijuana, still has to face a couple of more committees at the least before it can be voted on the House floor.
The bill also has strong opposition in the Senate.
“While Black Minnesotans and white Minnesotans use cannabis at almost exactly the same rate a Black Minnesotan is anywhere from four to ten times more likely to be arrested and charged for a cannabis-related crime,” remarked House Majority
Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, the bill’s chief author.
According to Winkler, the bill would eliminate law enforcement using possession of small amounts of marijuana as an excuse to arrest Black suspects at a higher rate than others.
Minnesota law enforcement officials have testified that it will make it much easier for people under age 21 to access marijuana however.
“To pass this bill would severely impact our youth by making access to this drug more readily available at a time when potency is at its highest in history,” said Sheriff Kevin Torgerson, of Olmsted County, who testified on behalf of the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association.
“There is still no roadside test for law enforcement to accurately determine an impaired driver’s level of intoxication for marijuana,” commented Jeff Potts, of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association. “We think such a test is vital to keeping the Minnesota roads and highways safe from marijuana-impaired drivers.”
Some opponents believe that possible marijuana use is a often a reason to profile drivers who are minorities.
“I’m just one of hundreds of thousands of adult cannabis consumers in Minnesota who are tired of living in a draconian police state,” said Marcus Harcus, of MN Campaign for Full Legalization.
A vote on the House floor is likely to happen in May for the bill after it goes through two more committees.