ST PAUL, Minn. - A second House committee approved a bill Tuesday that would legalize recreational marijuana in Minnesota. The measure will now be considered in several other committees before it is sent to the House floor.
During a hearing preceding the 7-5 vote by the House Labor, Industry, Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy Committee, House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler argued that Minnesota's marijuana laws are broken.
"We criminalize responsible adults who use cannabis for their own purposes," Winkler said passionately. "We criminalize people who use cannabis for their health benefits. We criminalize veterans who use cannabis as an alternative to opioids, and we criminalize countless African Americans."
More than a dozen witnesses testified before the committee Tuesday including labor leaders. Robert Lopez spoke for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, saying his union was in favor of the bill. He pointed out what his union sees as the pro-worker language in the measure.
"UFCW supports HF 600 because it includes strong labor peace language which is good for cannabis workers and the industry," Lopez said firmly, pausing briefly before continuing. "It is no surprise that multiple other states have chosen to include labor, peace agreements for cannabis licensure. California and New Jersey and New York all require cannabis operators to sign agreements requiring labor peace."
The UFCW represents cannabis workers in other states that have legalized marijuana. The union sees the fledgling industry as a potential job creator in Minnesota.