Minnesota Senators To Renew Push For Marijuana Legalization in 2023

Minnesota Senators To Renew Push For Marijuana Legalization in 2023

Marijuana Ballot Initiative Results From Election Day 2022 Reading Minnesota Senators To Renew Push For Marijuana Legalization in 2023 5 minutes Next “Opt-out” Cities Encourage Illegal Cannabis Sales

With a new Democratic majority, Minnesota is primed for another attempt at legalizing adult-use cannabis.



On Tuesday, the likelihood of marijuana becoming legal in Minnesota took a significant step forward as Democrats successfully flipped the state Senate giving them majorities in both chambers, according to a recent news release.


Voters also re-elected pro-reform Democratic Governor Tim Walz (D), further strengthening the prospects of finally passing legislation to make cannabis legal for all those 21 years and older in the state.


The Democratic leadership on Wednesday wasted no time in announcing that the issue would be among those discussed as part of their 2023 legislative agenda.


During a press briefing, Senator Erin Murphy (D), who spearheaded campaign strategy for the party this election cycle and is expected to be chosen as the new majority leader, shared that members "are going to get together for the first time tomorrow to begin to talk about the agenda, but it is important to remember that legalization of cannabis is a popular issue across the state."


"Members are going to get together for the first time tomorrow to begin to talk about the agenda, but it is important to remember that legalization of cannabis is a popular issue across the state."

- State Senator Erin Murphy (D)


Marijuana legalization was previously passed in the Democratically controlled House but was blocked consistently by the Republican-dominated Senate. That bill, authored by House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (D), managed to navigate through 12 committees during its exhaustive legislative odyssey to the floor for approval. However, it ultimately stalled out in the Senate, controlled by Republicans.


Likewise, a bipartisan legalization proposal championed by Sen. Scott Jensen (R) and Sen. Melisa López Franzen (D) in 2019 also failed to proceed. Nevertheless, with the seismic shift in the Senate now in favor of the Democrats, advocates are optimistic that Minnesota could finally realize legal marijuana in the "Land of 10,000 Lakes."


Maren Schroeder, Coalition Director for the MNisReady Coalition, explained in an interview on Wednesday, "We are excited about the prospects for full legalization, but Minnesotans who want to see legalization will still have work to do. We're optimistic that we'll get it across the finish line in 2023."


"We are excited about the prospects for full legalization, but Minnesotans who want to see legalization will still have work to do. We're optimistic that we'll get it across the finish line in 2023."

- Maren Schroeder, Coalition Director for the MNisReady Coalition


The gridlock caused by Senate Republicans on this issue has been a source of frustration for lawmakers and voters alike. Moreover, support for adult-use cannabis legalization has been consistently strong among Minnesotans in recent years. In fact, according to the results of two polls conducted this past September, a majority of residents approve of marijuana being legal for adults 21 years and older.


Governor Tim Walz (D), who was also re-elected on Tuesday, has been an outspoken advocate for cannabis reform during his tenure as the state's Chief Executive. He has backed legalizing marijuana in a regulated market and has even included funding for it in his budget proposal for this upcoming year. Following his victory Tuesday night, he reiterated his continued support for legal cannabis in the state and said, "I would assume now that there may be more of a desire."


Karen O'Keefe, Director of State Policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, echoed those sentiments stating, "With yesterday's elections, Minnesota has moved from a long shot for legalizing in the next couple of years to one of the best prospects. Only the Republican majority in the Senate stood in the way. The House already passed a bill in 2021, and Gov. Walz is a vocal supporter."


"With yesterday's elections, Minnesota has moved from a long shot for legalizing in the next couple of years to one of the best prospects. Only the Republican majority in the Senate stood in the way. The House already passed a bill in 2021, and Gov. Walz is a vocal supporter."

- Karen O'Keefe, Dir. of State Policies for the Marijuana Policy Project


Following years of "almost getting there," there now appears to be a realistic path toward legalizing marijuana in Minnesota as voters did make their voices heard by radically changing the makeup and leadership at the State House level. There is still work yet to do. However, with the removal of those Republican roadblocks to previous attempts to legalize it, supporters should be encouraged to believe that marijuana could be legal for adult use in Minnesota sooner than they imagined just a week ago.