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Minnesota poised to legalize marijuana

In a tense vote Friday afternoon, the senate passed the omnibus cannabis bill, which puts Minnesota on track to be the 23rd state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana. The bill passed along party lines, 34-33.

The law allows 21-year-olds to buy marijuana, and sell it, provided they are approved for a state business license. Beyond legalizing the use of recreational cannabis, the bill would expunge low-level criminal charges related to cannabis use.

Republican legislators voiced concerns that the bill doesn’t provide law enforcement with more funding to handle the new regulations around marijuana. They also had concerns over how many subsidies the state has created to help marijuana businesses off the ground. Democrats have said that the subsidies are necessary to create an equitable and successful industry around cannabis, and that the revenue from taxes collected on cannabis sales would pay for any unexpected costs.

The House and Senate bills are not totally aligned - there are different tax provisions in the House and Senate bills, and the Senate gave cities and counties authority to restrict the number of cannabis retailers within their borders. Both bills will go to a conference committee before heading to Walz's desk, who has promised to sign it into law. It will go into effect on August 1, 2023.

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