A bill that would legalize recreational marijuana in Minnesota appears to be dead on arrival.

As the Minnesota Legislature works on a potential marijuana bill, likely a decriminalization bill, the House quietly passed a second bill, which would change the deckchairs on the Titanic. House File 32, which originated in the Senate, would instead protect minors from being caught with marijuana, but would not allow the public to grow their own. This bill was quietly passed on a voice vote and is now sitting on the desk of Governor Dayton, who plans to sign it. It’s obviously not a marijuana bill, and it’s not the bill that’s likely to pass, but it’s the closest Minnesota gets to an actual change.

Louis O’Neill 17 May 2 min read Minnesota Marijuana Bill Unlikely to Pass

Despite passing in Minnesota’s House of Representatives, a bill seeking to legalize adult-use recreational cannabis in Minnesota is unlikely to pass in the Republican-controlled Senate.

The House of Representatives in Minnesota passed the adult-use recreational cannabis bill HF 600 last week with a 72-61 vote, moving the bill to the Senate for further approval. Passage of HF 600 thus far is a historic first for the state, which has never passed an adult-use cannabis legalization bill until now. While passage of the bill is certainly cause for celebration among cannabis advocates, it’s highly unlikely that the Senate will follow suit. In order for a state bill to be made into law in the U.S., it must first be passed by the House of Representatives, and then the Senate, and then passed by that State’s Governor. In the case of Minnesota, the House of Representatives has a Democrat majority, which explains the bill’s passage, as Democrats are well-known to be more favorable to cannabis legalization. However, the Senate in Minnesota has a Republican Majority and the Senate leader Paul Gazelka is no fan of cannabis legalization either. In 2019, Senator Gazelka tweeted that “Legalizing recreational marijuana is not something I would consider a priority issue. Due to its linkage to mental health problems, driving accidents, and impaired teen brain development, I don’t think it has a chance to pass the Senate this year.” Gazelka has since said that the legalization bill is already “up in smoke” within the Minnesota Senate, stating that “Making legalized pot for fun, we just don’t think that’s a good idea.” The statements of Gazelka reflect the general sentiments of Republican politicians in America, however, they aren’t as reflective of the sentiments of America more broadly, with just one in ten Americans opposing cannabis legalization in all its forms. Moreover, when looking at Minnesota specifically, polling data shows that the majority of Minnesotans support adult-use cannabis legalization too, suggesting that the Senate may be acting in discord with the will of its voters.

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