The new omnibus health bill includes provisions legalizing smokable marijuana products for registered patients. The legalization of smokable marijuana will be a welcome relief for users because alternatives are more expensive and pose an access barrier to those who need it most. People under the medical marijuana program will now use smokable marijuana to manage their medical conditions without breaking the law.
Lawmakers Reach A Compromise
The Minnesota House recently passed a bill to legalize marijuana, but it stalled in the Senate due to GOP resistance. However, its proponents managed to negotiate for changes in the state’s medical marijuana program.
House and Senate formed a bicameral conference committee which came up with an omnibus health bill. The bill proposed several marijuana-related reforms and received overwhelming support in the Senate, meaning that it only needs to governor’s approval to become law.
The new policy will allow adults aged 21 and above to access smokable forms of marijuana. If the governor ratifies it, it will come to effect by March 1, 2022, or earlier, depending on how long it takes stakeholders to develop rules and have them endorsed by the cannabis commissioner.
A Welcome Relief
Legislators hope the omnibus health bill will placate citizens who feel that the Minnesota medical cannabis program is too expensive. Allowing the sale of flowers will improve access and enable users to buy more affordable products. Veterans suffering from PTSD and people with serious health conditions will have a chance to use medical marijuana to improve the quality of their lives without violating drug crime laws.
The Governor Supports the Bill
The health bill is almost guaranteed to become law as Gov. Tim Walt is a vocal advocate of marijuana law reforms. He is of the view that criminalization and prohibition do not work and that adults should be free to make health decisions on their own.
He also notes that the current marijuana laws promote inequity. A disproportionate number of those arrested or serve time for marijuana-related crimes come from underprivileged communities or communities of color. Some are veterans who continue to struggle with the trauma from combat.
However, marijuana advocates are concerned that one proposal in the health bill may jeopardize access to medical marijuana. The new law allows regulators to remove some conditions that qualify for medical marijuana after receiving a petition from a concerned citizen or a task force. The current regulations only allow the commissioner to modify existing conditions or approve new ones.