Letter: Bill to legalize marijuana threatens hemp industry

The following letter was part of Rep. Mary Franson's legislative update. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.

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To the editor:

Bills to legalize recreational marijuana recently passed the House and Senate. Regardless of where you stand on the issue of legalizing recreational marijuana, there are some concerning aspects of the House bill, including:

  • Threatens the existing hemp industry. This bill will regulate hemp under the same industry as marijuana, opening them up to new mandates and taxes which will threaten many small businesses in Minnesota. Other states that have legalized marijuana have not subjected hemp or CBD products to the same regulations. Hemp is legal federally, unlike marijuana.
  • Ignores local control. Local units of government are restricted in their ability to enact guardrails for marijuana in their communities. This one size fits all approach will hurt local communities who want more control over the number of marijuana-related businesses in their community.
  • Won’t stop the black market. While we want to stop the marijuana black market and ensure people have access to safe cannabis products, legalizing it won’t necessarily accomplish this goal. Other states that have legalized recreational marijuana, like California and New York, continue to have issues with the black market. This bill does not go far enough in establishing guardrails to deter Minnesotans from black market cannabis products.

We can support the decriminalization of marijuana, but we don’t have to normalize its use. Had this bill been strictly about decriminalization, there would have been more bipartisan support.
There are differences between the House and Senate versions of this bill, so those are currently being negotiated in conference committee. I hope concerns regarding the hemp industry, local control, and stopping the black market are addressed before the final version comes back to the House for a final vote.

State Rep. Mary Franson
R-Alexandria, MN

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