Now, patients who are 21 and over with a valid med card can also access flower. The bill was approved earlier this month as part of a broader omnibus bill through a bicameral legislative conference committee. The bill was related to healthcare in general and was approved by both the Minnesota House and Senate.
Additionally, the bill allows for curbside pickup and increases the number of patients per caregiver from one to six. The commissioner is also now allowed to remove existing, qualifying conditions from the no-prescribe list if they receive a petition to do so, meaning those who currently don’t have their condition covered may soon have a way to access cannabis as medicine.
In the House, the bill passed 77 to 57, a close margin. The Senate passed it much more clearly with a 66 to 1 vote on the last day of the 2021 legislative session. However, the stand-alone piece of legislation that would have legalized adult-use cannabis and set up a retail system passed the House, but did not receive consideration in the Senate.
Minnesota Sees Progress In Cannabis Policy
Despite this set-back, some got excited when the Minnesota House of Representatives approved the legislation that would have legalized adult-use cannabis and expunged prior convictions, as this was the first time such a bill got approved in the House. House File 600, which was sponsored by House Majority Leader Ryan Winklery, a Democrat, would have allowed those 21 and up to possess up to 10 pounds of cannabis in their homes and two ounces in public. It would have also allowed up to eight cannabis plants, four mature at a time, for personal use. However, since it did not advance, the state must wait a little longer for full legalization.
While the House chamber passed the bill 72 to 61, the Senate is still Republican-majority and did not make it. It also would have automatically expunged previous convictions, as well as allowed for on-site consumption, home delivery and established a social equity plan to welcome communities of color and other marginalized people into the industry. If it had passed, it would have been one of the most progressive legal cannabis plans in the country.
And while Minnesota is still somewhat conservative, the data supports the concept that Minnesota residents want to see a legal industry. Statewide polling information reveals that 51 percent of residents want to legalize cannabis for recreational use, up from 30 percent in 2014.
“It’s time for Minnesota to become a leader in the Midwest when it comes to sensible marijuana policy,” said NORML State Policies Manager Carly Wolf at the time regarding the bill. “Not only would the passage of this bill allow police and courts to reprioritize their limited resources toward fighting serious crime rather than interacting with otherwise law-abiding Minnesotans over low-level possession offenses, but it would also provide relief to thousands suffering the collateral consequences of a marijuana arrest and conviction. I strongly encourage members of the Senate to follow the will of their constituents, a majority of whom support this policy change, and consider this common-sense remedy to the failed policy of prohibition.”
Even though Minnesota is not gearing up for fully legal cannabis yet, allowing flower to be used by medical patients is still a step in the right direction. Future legislative sessions and election years, as well as what happens on a federal level, will continue to determine the fate of cannabis in Minnesota.