Locals react to cannabis bill passing Minnesota House

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(ABC 6 News) – On its second day of debate in the House Tuesday afternoon, Minnesota’s adult-use cannabis bill passed off the House floor after 16 committees and hundreds of hours of consideration, discussion, and deliberation.

Some stakeholders, particularly small farmers and retailers, say they’re feeling lukewarm. They say while they’re excited about the prospect of legalization, they also feel like the bill isn’t protecting them or their customers.

“It’s really year-to-year. And things change dramatically year-to-year and you just can’t get your feet under you and operate. I don’t know that anybody could in that kind of environment,” said Jeff Brinkman, President of Superior Cannabis Company in Austin.

Brinkman is one of multiple southeast Minnesota growers and retailers lobbying at the state legislature.

He feels one of his remaining issues with the bill is it alienates small businesses and entrepreneurs.

“Some of the complexity in the bill can create pitfalls for new business owners. That’s really a reluctant item for people when entering a market is to see these 300 page bills and try to navigate that as a new business owner or a farmer,” Brinkman explained.

He wants regulations streamlined, and to work closer with local legislators on amending the bill.

The Olmsted County DFL party believes the lengthy debate has led to a reasonable bill.

“We think it’s a step in the right direction. It’s not a perfect thing to have, but neither is alcohol,” said Mark Liebow, DFL Chair of Senate District 24.

However, much of the debate Monday and Tuesday centered around other major differences and unresolved issues between Democrats and Republicans.

“We do know that right now there is no current test, like a roadside test, like we do with alcohol that our law enforcement officers can use,” pointed out Republican Rep. Patricia Mueller of Austin Monday.

Republican Rep. Shane Hudella of Hastings and Rep. Nolan West of Blaine voted in favor of legalizing marijuana while DFL Rep. Gene Pelowski, Jr. of Winona voted against it.

The Minnesota Senate, where the DFL has only a one seat majority, is expected to take up its version of the bill on Friday. Governor Tim Walz says he’ll sign the bill as soon as it gets to his desk.