SAINT PAUL, Minn. (Feb. 5, 2021) A bill introduced in the Minnesota House would legalize marijuana in the state despite federal prohibition on the same.

On February 1,  Rep. Ryan Winkler and a coalition of 35 Democrats introduced House Bill 600 (HF600). The legislation would not only legalize recreational marijuana use for adults 21 and older, but it would also allow for cultivation of up to 8 plants for personal use, permit the possession of paraphernalia, and legalize retail cultivation, delivery and sales. Rules would be in place for packaging and labeling to be child-resistant and not appeal to those under 21.

This legislation would require the creation of a regulatory board, as well as  an advisory council for the prevention and treatment of substance abuse disorder. It would also allow for expungement and re-sentencing of certain convictions.

EFFECT ON FEDERAL PROHIBITION

The federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains complete prohibition of marijuana. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate cannabis within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.

Minnesota legalized medical marijuana in 2014. The legalization of marijuana for personal use in Minnesota would take the next step and remove another layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana in the state even though federal prohibition would remain in effect. This is significant because FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. When states stop enforcing marijuana laws, they sweep away most of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests

Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.

A GROWING MOVEMENT

Minnesota joins a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition and nullifying it in practice.

Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska were the first states to legalize recreational cannabis, and California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts joined them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization passed in November 2016. Michigan followed suit when voters legalized cannabis for general use in 2018. Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana through a legislative act in 2018. Illinois followed suit in 2019. South Dakota, New Jersey, Montana and Arizona all legalized recreational marijuana through ballot measures in the 2020 election and Mississippi legalized medicinal cannabis.

With 36 states allowing cannabis for medical use, and 15 legalizing for adult recreational use, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition anymore.The lesson here is pretty straightforward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats.

WHAT’S NEXT

HF600 was referred to the House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee. It must pass out with a majority to continue on in the legislative process.

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