Senator Tina Smith Introduces Legalization Bill

Earlier this month Minnesota Junior Senator Tina Smith (D) introduced a marijuana legalization bill, known as the Substance Regulation and Safety Act of 2020 (SRSA). Not unlike other similar bills, SRSA would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and regulate it like tobacco.

Despite enthusiasm for the bill shared by industry supports such as NORML, the bill has slim chances to be heard in a Senate controlled by the GOP. Nonetheless, introduction of this bill this could be a harbinger for change locally, as legalization is anticipated to be a hot issue during the 2021 Minnesota legislative session. See our analsyis of Speaker Winkler’s bill here.

According to Sen. Smith’s press release, the SRSA Act would achieve the following:

  • Remove the federal prohibition on marijuana, by taking it off the list of illegal controlled substances from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, especially since 42 states and the District of Columbia already allow marijuana use.
  • Grant the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate cannabis and cannabis products, including regarding labeling and advertising standards – just as it does for tobacco products.
  • Establish 21 years of age as the minimum age for purchasing cannabis products, in line with tobacco and alcohol.
  • Establish a national strategy to combat the use and abuse of cannabis by youth, with special considerations to prevent racially disparate impacts of the strategy.
  • Promote the safety and quality control of cannabis crops.
  • Require regulations to govern the safe import and export of cannabis materials.
  • Require transportation safety research to establish an evidence-based standard for detecting cannabis-impaired driving, and to ensure that recommended best practices do not contribute to racist enforcement patterns. 

For what it’s worth, the timing of the bill introduction was interesting, as it was made less than ten days prior to her primary. Sen. Smith easily won the DFL nomination, but is facing off against two other marijuana party candidates in the November election.