Angela Dawson, a co-founder of 40 Acre Cooperative, speaks at the MN capitol Thursday (Elijah Todd-Walden/BLCK press)
DFL members of the MN House of Representatives unveiled a new bill to legalize recreational cannabis consumption for adults age 21 and up Thursday morning.
Outgoing House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (DFL), one of the sponsors of the legislation, is pushing for the bill to be passed this year. The bill includes expungement for people arrested for cannabis-related crimes like possession.
“For the last three years, the legislature has listened and worked to build a Minnesota-specific model for cannabis legalization,” Winkler said. “Our current laws are doing more harm than good. There is a better way - where we’re honest about cannabis and its impact - and model our laws according to that.”
The bill is not aimed at fixing social services, according to Representative Aisha Gomez.
While the revenue from cannabis taxation goes to the state general fund, she says the bill provides economic opportunities and loans to areas that have been historically impacted by the Drug War.
“A bunch of members of our caucus fought really hard to look at this bill through a lens of repair,” Representative Gomez said, “We looked to invest in economic development that targeted zip codes that had been disproportionately policed.”
The House is set to begin working on the bill next week, according to Winkler. He is hopeful that it will be passed within the next few months.
Angela Dawson, the president and founder of 40 Acres Co-op, said that she hopes for passage by Mother’s Day, which marks the beginning of the growing season in MN.
“Minnesota very much operates on the growth season, and we put in a lot of investment and capital in order to plant on time so that we can harvest on time,” Dawson said. “We’re working to help folks who have been socially disadvantaged and historically underrepresented in the hemp and cannabis marketplace.”