This post has been updated with response from DFL Gov. Mark Dayton.
Rep. Jon Applebaum, DFL-Minnetonka, introduced a bill Wednesday to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
"Minnesotans are rightfully developing different attitudes on marijuana," Applebaum said in a news release. "Other states' successes, along with the failed prohibition attempts of others, validated the need for a statewide conversation," he said.
Minnesota currently has one of the most restrictive medical marijuana programs in the country.
Legalization of recreational marijuana has swept across the American West in recent years, with successful campaigns in Colorado, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. In the East, Massachusetts voted to legalize in 2016. The campaigns have relied on a coalition of left and right, as socially liberal Democrats have joined hands with libertarians who oppose the cost of enforcing prohibition and the police intrusions that often come with it.
Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, but former President Barack Obama's Justice Department took a mostly hands-off approach to legal marijuana in the states. The result has been a boom in marijuana sales and tax collections and a burgeoning industry in cultivation, distribution and tourism. Colorado topped $1 billion in legal marijuana sales in 2016, helping the state rake in more than $150 million in tax revenue just through October of 2016.
It's unclear how the new administration of President Donald Trump will treat the issue, but Wednesday he promised a "ruthless" war on drugs. His nominee for Attorney General, Sen. Jeff Sessions, is known as a drug prohibition hardliner.
Still, polls show that an increasing majority of Americans believe marijuana should be legalized for recreational purposes.
Despite Minnesota's relatively liberal politics, the recreational marijuana issue has gained very little traction here, and it's unlikely Applebaum's bill will pass.
Applebaum said he sought to create a "made in Minnesota" industry wherein marijuana is grown by Minnesota farmers and distributed and sold by Minnesota companies.
Update: When Gov. Mark Dayton was asked about the proposal Wednesday, he said he opposes it. “I don’t support it. We’ve got enough drugs, an epidemic of drugs that’s floating through our society right now. And law enforcement’s got to deal with all the consequences of it. Whether it’s more or less harmful than alcohol, the fact is, alcohol causes a great many terrible tragedies around the state, on the roads and the like," he said.