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Badroos: Legalizing marijuana

With 2023 on the horizon, the stigma around recreational marijuana might finally see its end.
Image by Mary Ellen Ritter
Minnesota joins 22 other states in legalizing recreational cannabis use when Gov. Tim Walz signed the bill on Tuesday.

The fight for regulation is as close as it’s ever been when it comes to Mary Jane.

The 2022 election proved to be a critical heat check for the legalization of marijuana in Minnesota. Voters showed an increase in overall support for the recreational use of marijuana for those 21 years old and older, proving the turning point for the state could come as early as next year.

The annual Minnesota House of Representatives State Fair poll suggested 61% of registered voters favor the bill, an increase from last year’s 58% through the same poll.

While Minnesota has yet to fully legalize recreational marijuana, it has been partially decriminalized. The state also legalized some hemp-derived delta 8 THC edibles and beverages in July. However, we still have a ways to go.

Minnesota would become the 22nd state to legalize recreational marijuana. Now that Gov. Tim Walz has been reelected and Democrats control both chambers of the Legislature, it seems like that goal is closer than ever.

The prohibition of recreational marijuana is an outdated formality. Its regulation would both sustain local businesses and protect consumers. Once the product is regulated, dispensaries will be able to safely distribute cannabis products and assure quality on a professional level. You will not have to rely on your roommate’s sketchy boyfriend anymore.

Steven Brown, the president of the Cannabis Association, talked about the process of regulating recreational use and what it means for small businesses.

“We want to see it done right. We also would like the H.R.600 to go through another draft because there are definitely holes in it. When legalization happens in most states, it’s still federally illegal, so you have to file a 280-E, which is a tax basis at the end of the year,” Brown said.

The nuances of drafting the necessary legalities for recreational adult use has a direct impact on smaller hemp shop establishments.

“You can’t write off your employees or overhead, all the money that’s generated is taxed at a high rate so most small businesses can’t survive. H.R.600 in reality does not support small businesses,” he said.

In regards to demand from clientele, Brown noted the recent legalization of THC edibles and beverages as a jumping off point for flower, the bud from the marijuana plant that is smoked, to be legalized as well.

“We can sell edibles and beverages now and our business has done well. Customers are receptive to it. I think it’s fantastic and there’s a lot of growth in the marketplace,” Brown said. He continued, saying “there’s a need for flowers, and what’s missing is the ability for people to have flower and vapes recreationally.”

The lack of movement on the bill has also made it so that Minnesota cannot reap the benefits of the hemp industry.

“In Minnesota, we’ve never been able to experience what other markets are experiencing; we’re hindered in so many different ways when it comes to the cannabis industry,” Brown said.

Brown is optimistic that recreational marijuana could be legalized on a federal level in the next few years.

“We’re probably two to three years out before the first legal dispensary will be open,” he said.

Given the health benefits that marijuana can provide to those with chronic pain, anxiety and PTSD, it is time for the law surrounding this forbidden plant to catch up with the times.

State legislators and government officials are certainly feeling the pressure on legalizing marijuana. With the recent surge of new voters in support of the movement, it might finally be time to end the stigma and welcome legalization.

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