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Democrats push to bring marijuana legalization up for a vote in Minnesota Senate

The GOP-led chamber on Wednesday voted down a procedural motion to pull a bill out of committee and up for a vote on the floor.

Senate Minority Leader Melisa Lopez Franzen
Minnesota Senate Minority Leader Melisa López Franzen, along with fellow Democratic senators, on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, speaks to reporters at the Capitol after the Senate voted to block a proposal to legalize marijuana from coming to the floor.
Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service
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ST. PAUL — Members of the Minnesota Senate on Wednesday, May 18, blocked an effort to make the chamber vote on whether Minnesota should legalize marijuana for recreational use.

Democrats in the chamber sought to pull the bill out of committee and put it on the floor for a vote, noting that the House of Representatives passed it but it didn't get a hearing in the Senate. But on a 33-31 vote, the GOP-led chamber voted against the motion to take up the bill.

Senate Minority Leader Melisa López Franzen, DFL-Edina, authored the bill and said that the people of Minnesota supported efforts to make marijuana available for adult use. And she said Democratic-Farmer-Labor lawmakers would keep up efforts to get it passed in the final days of the legislative session.

“Minnesotans want to have this conversation about legalization of cannabis and they want to see us move ahead,” López Franzen said. "We all know that legalizing cannabis will have economic benefits, but just as importantly, we need to address the disparities in the criminal justice system around cannabis."

Republicans in the chamber voted against the procedural motion and they voiced concerns about decriminalizing marijuana and making it available for legal use.

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“I can’t believe we’re even talking about that," Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, said on the floor. “This is not helping police, if it’s voted in police are going to have a little more security because they’re going to be cleaning up a lot of accidents on our highways."

Minnesota currently allows marijuana for medical use for certain conditions approved by the state department of health. Eighteen other states have laws on the books allowing the use of cannabis for recreational purposes.

MORE FROM DANA FERGUSON:
Several incumbent state legislators, particularly in the Senate, edged out competitors with more extreme views on COVID-19, election security and more.

Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter  @bydanaferguson , call 651-290-0707 or email  dferguson@forumcomm.com.

Dana Ferguson is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. Ferguson has covered state government and political stories since she joined the news service in 2018, reporting on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the divided Statehouse and the 2020 election.
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