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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michael Howard (DFL)

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Legislative Update - It’s Time to Legalize Adult-Use Cannabis

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Rep. Howard

Dear Neighbors, 

Today, we’ll be on the House floor to vote for a bill that would legalize and regulate cannabis for adult use, and expunge the records of those convicted of nonviolent cannabis-related crimes. I will be voting yes. 

There are a number of reasons why it’s time for Minnesota to legalize adult-use cannabis, but at the top of the list for me is its impact on racial justice. Despite comparable usage rates, Black Minnesotans are 5.4 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than white Minnesotans, and our state ranks 8th in the largest racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests.

Our current laws are doing far more harm than good, with the data showing that all they’re really accomplishing is an exacerbated racial divide in our justice system, punishing Minnesotans for possession of a substance that a growing number of states have managed to successfully legalize for adult use.

To put a face to the damaging impacts of our current laws on communities of color, I encourage you to read the Star Tribune’s coverage of the issue.

Cannabis Racial Inequality

This is an area where Minnesota is falling behind other states. As a result of the 2020 election, voters in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota approved measures to regulate cannabis for adult-use, adding to the 11 other states and 3 territories. The benefit of this is that we’ve been able to craft our legislation after the example of others, resulting in a comprehensive bill that’s been vetted by a dozen committees in the Minnesota House, passing some with bipartisan support.

Our bill would create a responsible regulatory structure that also funds public health awareness, youth access prevention, and substance abuse treatment. This is on top of improving our medical cannabis program, improving access and affordability for Minnesotans who live with serious illnesses such as cancer, seizures, and chronic pain.

While we expect the bill to pass in the House today, it faces more of a challenge in the Republican-controlled Senate, where - despite its bipartisan popularity - Senate leaders have yet to allow meaningful work on the issue.

Our debate on the House floor will begin at 4:30pm, which you can watch live at You can also find more information on our bill here. Please feel free to reach out with any questions or comments you have on this legislation.

In partnership, 

Michael Howard