As we first reported on March 2, 2021, the attempt to gain legislative approval of cannabis legalization was before the Minnesota House of Representatives for the second year in a row. H.F. 600 would legalize cannabis for residents 21 and older, expunge low-level cannabis convictions, establish an expungement board to review felony offenses involving cannabis, and provide grants and loans for small businesses to enter the business. The law would impose gross receipts and use taxes on its sale, raising millions in tax revenues for the state. The Minnesota House of Representatives narrowly approved the bill on a vote of 72-61, suggesting continued warm opposition to legalization in the state, notwithstanding the fact that 12 different committees provided bipartisan support of the bill in advance of the floor vote.
House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler remains the standard-bearer for cannabis legalization in Minnesota but passage by the state senate remains in doubt. The Minnesota legislative session has been a contentious one and appears headed, again, to overtime special session just to finish consideration of significant budget bills, placing the passage of H.F. 600 in jeopardy once again. While many seek legalization in Minnesota, the issue does not enjoy widespread, bipartisan support in the state senate. In fact, State Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka has stated publicly that any bill authorizing recreational use of cannabis enjoys “zero chance” of passage in the senate.
We will continue to monitor developments as the Minnesota Legislature enters special session and report back.