Minnesota’s new legal marijuana law closer to final version

The road to legalized recreational marijuana in Minnesota got a lot shorter Friday.

Legislators met for the first time to resolve the differences between bills in the House and Senate.

The biggest differences in the bills are how much it’ll be taxed and how much of it you can have at home.

But committee leaders expect to roll out a resolution soon, so cannabis is coming to Minnesota for people over 21.

But first, legislators are building guardrails, like determining when employers can test their employees.

"We just want to make sure that just like alcohol, adult use cannabis is something you can do in your off time but not something we’re expecting folks to do while they’re at work," said Rep. Athena Hollins, DFL-St. Paul. 

Republicans in conference committee aimed to protect some of the hemp industry businesses formed since the legislature approved those products last year.

And they focused on collecting data to measure the impact of allowing recreational use.

"Reporting and data collection will allow us to have a baseline for both the youth population and the adult population for us to track the impacts that cannabis legalization and cannabis use have on people going forward," said St. Sen. Jordan Rasmusson, R-Fergus Falls.

Democrats say it’ll likely take 12 to 16 months after the bill passes to start issuing licenses to retailers.

Some Republicans argue there’s no rush and they could keep working on the bill to get it passed in next year’s session.

But both bills allow some home growing and Democrats have keyed in on another provision of the bill reversing marijuana possession convictions.

"Minnesotans are ready for this change," said Rep. Zack Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids. Our laws are doing more harm than good and every day we leave them in place more harm is done. so we are going to deliver this bill for the people of Minnesota this year.

The committee is expected to meet a handful of times over the next few days before getting that final bill done for votes in the House and Senate.