Senators prepare cannabis reform push in Congress • Minnesota lawmaker unveils adult use legalization bill • & more…

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Senators prepare cannabis reform push in Congress.

On Monday, US Senators Cory Booker, Ron Wyden, and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, issued a joint statement on “comprehensive cannabis reform legislation” in the new Congress.

In short, they are working on drafting a new bill that sounds like it builds off of the MORE Act, which passed out of the US House in December. 

Here is the statement in full:

“The War on Drugs has been a war on people—particularly people of color. Ending the federal marijuana prohibition is necessary to right the wrongs of this failed war and end decades of harm inflicted on communities of color across the country. But that alone is not enough. As states continue to legalize marijuana, we must also enact measures that will lift up people who were unfairly targeted in the War on Drugs. 

“We are committed to working together to put forward and advance comprehensive cannabis reform legislation that will not only turn the page on this sad chapter in American history, but also undo the devastating consequences of these discriminatory policies. The Senate will make consideration of these reforms a priority.

“In the early part of this year, we will release a unified discussion draft on comprehensive reform to ensure restorative justice, protect public health and implement responsible taxes and regulations. Getting input from stakeholder groups will be an important part of developing this critical legislation.”

+More: Read Cannabis Wire’s in-depth story about what the new Congress means for cannabis.

Minnesota lawmaker unveils adult use legalization bill.

On Monday, Minnesota House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler introduced an adult use cannabis legalization bill. 

Broadly, the bill includes expungement, allows for home grow, puts revenue toward education, prevention, and treatment, and aims to create a “craft market.” Though, it has yet to be subject to amendments in the legislature, so the final bill will likely look different. 

Winkler introduced adult use last year, as Cannabis Wire reported at the time. And, as part of a “Be Heard on Cannabis” tour that helped to shape this new bill, Winkler and other lawmakers held meetings across the state with local communities, groups, and state agencies.

“The failed criminalization of cannabis has resulted in a legacy of racial injustice that can no longer go unaddressed,” Winkler said in an announcement about the bill. “Adults deserve the freedom to decide whether to use cannabis, and our state government should play an important role in addressing legitimate concerns around youth access, public health, and road safety. Veterans and Minnesotans with serious illnesses like PTSD deserve better access to our medical program, which is not working well for most people. It’s time to legalize, expunge, and regulate.”

During a briefing last week, while discussing the state budget, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz responded to a question about sports betting revenue estimates by bringing up cannabis legalization. 

“I would still like the legislators to take a look at recreational cannabis because of the – not just the revenue sources that are there that dwarf sports betting but because of the equity issue, and to be quite honest the racial impact of our cannabis laws,” Walz said

How has legal cannabis contributed to Washington state’s economy?

Last year, according to a new report from Washington State University, the state’s “cannabis sector contributed $1.85 billion to gross state product” and it “directly and indirectly supported nearly 18,700 full time equivalent jobs.”

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