Minnesota legislators have reached a final agreement on a bill to legalize recreational cannabis for adults aged 21 and older, paving the way for a vote in the House and Senate in the final days of the session.

Sen. Lindsey Port, DFL-Burnsville, who is sponsoring the bill in the Senate, expressed gratitude for the collaborative effort and optimism for the bill's passage this year. The legislation is the result of 30 committees, countless hours of testimony, and numerous revisions throughout the legislative session. The finalized bill will not only legalize cannabis for recreational use but also permit state-licensed businesses to cultivate, manufacture, and retail marijuana products.

After Tuesday's conference committee, Port confirmed that the deal is now "locked," with no further modifications. The bill will be subject to a straightforward up-or-down vote in the legislature, without the possibility of added amendments.

The committee settled the final proposal's tax and spending components on Tuesday, agreeing on a 10% gross receipts tax on marijuana products, a slight increase from the House's initial 8% proposal. Revenue generated from the legalized cannabis sales will be distributed between the state and local governments, with 80% allocated to the state and the remaining 20% to cities and counties.

A significant portion of the funding will be directed to the new Office of Cannabis Management, responsible for implementing and overseeing the legal cannabis business regulatory framework. Additionally, some funds will be channeled towards the University of Minnesota for research on cannabis' health effects and drug training for law enforcement.

James Stuart, executive director of the Minnesota Sheriffs' Association, expressed concern about the length of training and its potential impact on staffing levels, given the current recruitment challenges in law enforcement. Opponents of marijuana legalization have long cited public safety concerns. The bill addresses this by adding cannabis, from marijuana to low-dose hemp-derived THC edibles, to the list of substances eligible for DWI penalties if a person drives while intoxicated.

Stuart highlighted the potential risks, including increased emergency room visits, youth impact, long-term mental health issues, and traffic fatalities if the process is not approached cautiously. Currently, there is no reliable test to determine marijuana consumption, similar to a breathalyzer for alcohol. Minnesota's cannabis proposal includes a pilot program within the Department of Public Safety to test oral fluid roadside tests.

The state legislature has until Monday to conclude its regular session work.