AUDIO: House Majority Leader speaks ahead of historic House vote on legalizing recreational marijuana

For the first time in Minnesota’s history, the state House of Representatives will vote on a bill legalizing recreational marijuana.

The vote is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. tomorrow, and the debates can be viewed on the House’s streaming website.

House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler said today that while opposition to the bill remains in the Senate, bringing the bill front and center this year will add provisions to the state’s medical-marijuana program, making it more affordable for more patients.

Winkler added that even if marijuana isn’t fully legalized this year, the legislature could essentially pick up where they left off next year, meaning the bill would not have to go through 12 committee hearings again.

Winkler is the chief author of the bill that also seeks to expunge criminal records of marijuana-related crimes, with some proceeds to support public health and small business start-ups.

Farmington Republican Rep. Pat Garafolo added an amendment that would set aside some money from the proceeds of sales into a tax relief account, garnering some bipartisan support for the bill, at least in the House.

As Monday’s deadline for passing the budget looms, the main sticking point between House Democrats and Senate Republicans is funding K through 12 education. Winkler says the legislature remains in heavy negotiations.

Listen to the full interview with House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler here.

Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers all the beats in north-central Minnesota, such as local government, crime, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University. You can follow along with Larissa's live tweets of meetings and events on Twitter!

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