St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - A Rochester lawmaker is pushing for a constitutional amendment that would end Minnesota’s prohibition on the personal use and cultivation of marijuana.

Democrat Tina Liebling has announced that she intends to introduce legislation that would place the proposed constitutional amendment on the election ballot to allow Minnesotans to decide if the state should join the growing list of states that have legalized the recreational use of the drug.

Liebling says her bill includes policies that allow for a competitive market for marijuana, the cultivation of cannabis for personal use and policies to protect youth from exposure. The legislation also includes a tax on marijuana sales with the proceeds focused on chemical dependency and mental health education and treatment.

“Minnesotans know that the prohibition on cannabis is costly, harmful and antiquated,” remarked Liebling. “Estimates of the cost of cannabis enforcement in Minnesota range from $42 million a year for possession offenses alone to $137 million a year for all cannabis arrests. Yet Minnesotans spend perhaps $700 million a year on cannabis, indirectly helping fund crime through an enormous black market. All this for a substance that—while not harmless—is far safer than alcohol.”

Fellow Democrat Jon Applebaum of Minnetonka introduced a bill Wednesday that would legalize recreational marijuana in Minnesota with taxes on the sales of the drug directed at funding for Minnesota schools. Neither proposal is expected to gain much traction in the Republican controlled legislature, and Governor Mark Dayton is making it clear he is not supportive.

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