As of this writing, we are early in the 2021 session of the Minnesota legislature. And when it comes to Minnesota laws on marijuana, THC and cannabis, let’s just say we have many opportunities for improvement. We won’t get deep into the reasons and issues here. But instead, here we present the list of priorities for our 2021 Minnesota Legislative Agenda.
1. Minnesota Constitutional Amendment Ballot Question
Many of the adult-legal states got there, not by legislation, but by voter initiative on the states’ general election ballot. Minnesota is not an Initiative and Referendum state allowing ballot questions to be certified following a voter Petition process. But In Minnesota we can and we have amended by the Minnesota Constitution many times, via general election ballot question.
In order for this to appear on the general election ballot, however, both the Minnesota House and the Minnesota Senate must approve a Bill. But the Governor could not veto.
Proposed text, with explanatory annotation, appears elsewhere on our site: “Guarantee Equal Rights to Marijuana as to Beer and Wine.” Properly framed as full decriminalization and a civil rights amendment, this is the core of our 2021 Minnesota legislative agenda.
2. Small Amount Decrim Law Clean-up
Make possession of a small personal amount of marijuana concentrates, edibles, and liquids a petty misdemeanor instead of a felony. Remove drug education program requirement for possessing or giving away a small amount of cannabis (to discourage federal courts from imprisoning people for prior small amount convictions). Remove Driver’s License revocations for possession of a small amount of cannabis. Pardon or expunge records for individuals with felony records if the charge would no longer be a felony after this bill is made into law.
Same language as last year’s HF4000, but with changes to the expungement of felonies,
Section 8, to fix this concern: Civil Rights, Guns & Marijuana: Why Expungement is Broken in Minnesota.
3. Exclude drug purity test kits from drug paraphernalia definition
We should encourage testing for contaminants, not make it illegal. Same language as last year’s HF1588/SF1600.
4. Access to Medical Cannabis Program for People on Probation or DOC Release
Explicitly articulate in Statute that patients on probation, parole, supervised release, or conditional release can participate in Minnesota’s medical cannabis program. Same language as HF3640/SF3376 from last year.
Equal access, even for people struggling with legal and medical issues, is a civil rights aspect of our 2021 Minnesota legislative agenda.
5. Add Flower to the Medical Cannabis Program
Add whole-plant to the Minnesota medical cannabis program. Last year’s raw cannabis language for this is at Section 1 of HF3485. The whole plant’s natural healing powers can benefit many patients with the entourage effect.
6. Criminal defense for the possession of medical cannabis
Affirmative defense for the criminal possession of medical cannabis, with limited reciprocity. Same language as Section 4 of last year’s HF4310/SF4446, but as a standalone bill.
7. Federal DEA exemption petition for State authorized use of medical cannabis
Same language as Sections 6 – 8 of last year’s HF3639/SF3375.
Add to 152.32 Subd. 2: “(k) Barring any violations listed in 152.33, for the purposes of sections 152.22 to 152.37, medical cannabis is excepted from all schedules of controlled substances in 152.02, subdivision 2
through subdivision 6.”
This part of our 2021 Minnesota legislative agenda highlights the importance of reconciling state and federal law.
8. Removal of marijuana & nonsynthetic THC from Schedule I classification in Minnesota
This would remove marijuana and natural-THC from Minnesota’s Controlled Substances Act Schedule 1. Same language as Sections 1-5 of last year’s HF3639/SF3375. After passage, marijuana and natural-THC would no longer be criminal purely due to inclusion in Minnesota’s Schedule 1. We could still regulate them, however.
9. Codify into Statute the Medical Cannabis Program Changes made with the Governor’s Peacetime Emergency
The Governor’s Peacetime Emergency executive orders made changes to Minnesota’s Medical Cannabis Program to improve accessibility to people with medical problems and disabilities. We’d like those changes to be permanent, by codifying them into statute. And, we’d specifically extend the curbside pick-up and the provision that allows caregivers to serve more than one patient outside of the same household. Also we’d include the existing waiver of background checks. For a fuller description, see this from MDH: Frequently Asked Questions for Medical Cannabis Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
10. Comprehensive Cannabis Reform Bill, Rep. Ryan Winkler
Minnesota House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler introduced legislation in the 2020 Session that would legalize the adult use of cannabis. HF 4632 was the result of months of public discussions on how to responsibly legalize and regulate cannabis, including with leaders in Minnesota cannabis reform organizations as well as Town Halls across the state. This is an important part of our 2021 Minnesota legislative agenda. You can read the text of the full Bill at this link, 2020 HF 4632.
And you can read one summary of the 2020 Bill by Reason Foundation: The Strengths and Flaws in Minnesota’s Marijuana Legalization Bill.
Like many Bills in the 2020 Session, focus on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic sidelined it. More about the Adult Use Bill.
Partners in our 2021 Minnesota Legislative Agenda
This is our 2021 Minnesota legislative agenda for Minnesota NORML.
In addition to the members and leaders of Minnesota NORML, we credit the wise and good work of Kurt Hanna, as well as of Maren Schroeder of Sensible Minnesota. Be sure to support Sensible Minnesota, and their leadership.
Our challenge is to organize and mobilize each other as citizen and voters; to engage with our lawmakers to achieve our legislative goals. As we do so, we will work with partners as often as possible.
This document may help you as you engage with your Minnesota lawmakers:
While Minnesota NORML focuses on changing Minnesota law, keep in mind that national NORML is leading the way on reforming the laws at the federal level. And national NORML is a great help to us in our Minnesota state efforts as well.
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