Local people react to the possibility of marijuana legalization

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(ABC 6 News) – In the first week of the 2023 legislative session, many house DFL lawmakers have introduced a bill to legalize marijuana in Minnesota.

With democrats having control of both chambers, many believe the legalization of marijuana is a real possibility. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has also voiced his support for the bill.

“Minnesotans are ready and I believe that 2023 is the year we will legalize adult-use cannabis in Minnesota,” said co-author of the bill Rep. Zack Stephenson, of Coon Rapids.

Under the bill, Minnesotan’s over 21 years old would be able to buy and possess marijuana for recreational use.

The proposal states that people are allowed to possess 2 oz of marijuana in public and five lbs at home.

“I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that we’ve engaged in among the most robust bill development processes of any legislation in the history of the legislature,” added Rep. Stephenson.

Businesses like The CBD Joint have been ready for this type of legislation since July.

“It’s a long time coming and people should be able to do what they want, as long as they do it responsibly,” said store manager Peter Andrews. “Yeah, it’s a great step forward.”

Andrews says it’s a great opportunity to get local, smaller businesses into the industry.

“Up until now, you’ve just had these really huge companies that own the medical licenses, and now the little guys can get into it, so that’s great,” Andrews added.

Many groups strongly oppose the bill.

“The whole idea of legalization is a problem,” said Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson.

He says the legislation is reckless and too soon for Minnesota, adding his main concern is the rising of impaired driving.

“Someone could be smoking while driving very easily and that’s a problem,” Sheriff Torgerson explained.

He explains that currently, there is no road-side testing for marijuana impairment, adding that Minnesota roads will be more dangerous than ever.

“Know that more people in our state are gonna be dead because of impaired drivers. There’s gonna be more impaired drivers on the road.”

The first public hearing on the bill is scheduled for January 11, in the House Commerce Committee.