Minnesota Democrats Legalizing Recreational Cannabis After Midterm Victories

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The legalization of the recreational use by certain adults of cannabis can be added to legislative victories achieved this year by Minnesota Democrats after they took control last year of both the state legislature and the governorship.

As of early this week, both chambers of the Minnesota legislature — including the state Senate, where Democrats have just one more seat than Republicans — had passed a plan to establish the legalization of what’s also termed adult-use cannabis, and Democratic Governor Tim Walz indicated he was in support of the initiative. “When the bill reaches my desk, Minnesota will become the 23rd state in the nation to legalize adult-use cannabis,” Walz said. Minnesota officials already legalized the medical use of cannabis, as even some Republican officials, like state figures in Florida, have supported.

The Minnesota plan will also provide for the potential reversal of past criminal charges against individuals involved with cannabis. A new state board dealing with these cases — and comprised of members even including the Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court or a designee replacing them — will have responsibilities to, among other areas of work, “determine whether a person’s conviction should be vacated, charges should be dismissed, and records should be expunged, or whether the person should be resentenced to a lesser offense,” according to what’s evidently the text of the legislation. Those whose past offenses did, in fact, constitute actions either no longer illegal or less serious under the new legal framework can, of course, probably reasonably expect action on their cases.

“Drew Evans, superintendent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, said that there are tens of thousands of marijuana-related criminal records that need to be reviewed,” according to Forbes. Interestingly, the Minnesota plan will even allow residents to grow limited quantities of their own cannabis, as long as they generally abide by the rest of the rules.

Minnesotan Democrats have also presided over progress on abortion rights, gender-affirming healthcare, and even weapons rules, including with Walz’s recent approval of universal background checks for gun sales and the establishment of a system for obtaining temporary limits from the court system on access to firearms for individuals deemed potentially dangerous. Democrats there are also moving to implement a program for universal paid family leave.