Recreational marijuana bill passes Minnesota House, heads to Senate

Recreational marijuana is a step closer to becoming legal under state law in Minnesota, with lawmakers passing the marijuana omnibus bill by a vote of 71-59.

"We know Minnesota’s current cannabis laws are doing more harm than good," said Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL-Coon Rapids), the bill's sponsor. "Over the last three years, DFLers in the Legislature have worked and listened to build a Minnesota-specific model for cannabis legalization. This bill creates a safe, well-regulated legal marketplace, and includes best practices for consumer protection, health, and public safety. It also prioritizes a robust expungement program, so people who have been disproportionately impacted by our current cannabis laws can move on with their lives. It is time for legalization, and I’m proud to carry this bill forward."

Lawmakers discussed more than 20 amendments throughout two sessions spanning two days prior to passing the legislation. Several contentious changes centered around giving local jurisdictions more control over legalization ultimately failed to get approval prior to the House Floor vote.

Previous iterations of legislation that would legalize recreational usage have passed the House before but historically faced a roadblock in the GOP-controlled Senate.

However, with the DFL taking control of the Senate in the previous election, establishing a trifecta of control, the measure was sure to be taken up again. Last year, the Minnesota Legislature approved legislation that legalized hemp-derived THC products in Minnesota – a move that some considered a "half-step" en route to full legalization. One that also added confusion for the legal hemp industry.

Under the law, a person over 21 is allowed to possess up to two ounces of marijuana in public and 1.5 pounds at home with lower limits for cannabis concentrates (8 grams) or THC edibles (800 milligrams of THC). It also allows members of the public to grow up to eight plants.

The bill’s companion will be heard in a Senate hearing on Friday. That hearing will be the final one before a Senate floor vote.

If it passes, it will need to be signed into law by Gov. Tim Walz. As recently as last week, Governor Walz has vowed to sign a recreational cannabis bill.