Local government in Cook County set for influx of cash as Minnesota remains on track to legalize marijuana
AP Photo/Eric Risberg

Local government in Cook County set for influx of cash as Minnesota remains on track to legalize marijuana

Cook County property owners will likely be able to grow marijuana plants in their backyard this summer.

Or on their front porch.

Or anywhere they choose to on their property, for that matter.

The Minnesota Senate voted in late April to legalize recreational marijuana for adults. That being the case, the bill requires more work and negotiations before it can become law.

However, according to District 3 Sen. Grant Hauschild, the odds look promising that Cook County residents and others across Minnesota should have the green light this year to legally grow cannabis plants and possess marijuana if they choose to do so.

“I have a feeling they will,” Hauschild said. “I think we have the votes.”

The Senate vote was 34-33 on April 28, with all Democrats, including Hauschild, voting yes and all Republicans voting no. There are several differences between the Senate bill and the companion version that passed the House 71-59, so a House-Senate conference committee will need to resolve them before final votes in each chamber.

Democratic Gov. Tim Walz has pledged to sign the bill once it reaches his desk. It seeks to replace the illicit market for marijuana with a legal and regulated market, and to expunge the criminal records of residents who’ve been convicted of nonviolent marijuana offenses such as simple possession.

Both versions of the bill run over 300 pages. Among the major differences, the Senate version allows people to possess up to 5 pounds of cannabis flower at home, though only 2 pounds could be from sources other than home-grown. The House limit is 1.5 pounds whatever the source. The tax rate on cannabis products in the Senate bill is 10%, compared to 8% in the House version.

Minnesota would become the 23rd state after Delaware to legalize adult-use cannabis, the Associated Press reports. Marijuana would become legal to possess this summer, including home-growing up to eight plants at a time. But sponsors say it will take a year or more of regulatory work before dispensaries could start retail sales. This means that retail marijuana dispensaries in places like Grand Marais, Lutsen, or on the Gunflint Trail, likely won’t be in operation until 2024.

Hauschild was instrumental in making sure local governments across Minnesota, including Cook County, will recive a protion of the tax money collected from marijuana sales.

“Before I made an amendment to the bill, there was no local government money to our communities and counties to try to handle sort of this brand new industry,” Hauschild told WTIP. “I increased the tax to 10% and had that money sent to local governments. This is something that our counties and cities had been asking for.”

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Hauschild about this topic and other news from the Capitol in St. Paul as the 2023 legislative session nears the finish line. Elected officials in the House and Senate need to finish their work by May 22.

Other topics discussed during the interview include the tax bill, funding for education in Minnesota focused on reading, news from the Iron Range regarding mining leases, and funding for a major construction project on Highway 61 that is scheduled to begin this summer near Two Harbors. Listen to the full interview in the audio below.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.