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Minnesota Senate approves amended cannabis legalization bill by 1 vote

The measure will now go to conference committee to iron out differences.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota is another step closer to adult-use cannabis for recreational use, after the Minnesota Senate voted 34-33 in favor of legalization on Friday.

Following the party-line vote, the bill now must go to a conference committee to iron out differences with the version passed in the Minnesota House earlier this week, then face a final vote in each chamber before it could go to the desk of Governor Walz.

A series of amendments were added to the measure before the Senate vote, which included a provision that would allow local governments to impose restrictions on cannabis retailers.

Supporters of recreational cannabis felt the 2023 session would be their best chance yet at legalization, with the trifecta of DFL control in the House, Senate and governor’s office.

Both versions of the bill run over 300 pages. Among the major differences, the Senate version allows people to possess up to 5 pounds of cannabis flower at home, though only 2 pounds could be from sources other than home-grown. The House limit is 1.5 pounds whatever the source. The tax rate on cannabis products in the Senate bill is 10%, compared to 8% in the House version.

The measure would also expunge previous low-level marijuana-related criminal convictions, as supporters argue such convictions disproportionately affect communities of color.

“The prohibition of cannabis is a failed system that has not achieved the desired goals and has had incredible costs for our communities, especially for communities of color,” the lead author, DFL Sen. Lindsey Port, of Burnsville, told her colleagues.

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