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Rumors of marijuana legalization swirl ahead of Minnesota State Legislative session

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MINNESOTA (FOX47) -- State Democrats are hoping to eventually pass a bill to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use in the state of Minnesota. If passed this year, the state would become the 11th in the nation to pass such a bill. Right now, Minnesota is one of 39 states with some form of marijuana legal for medical use.

However, such a bill is being met with opposition, mainly due to public safety. Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson says, "It's public safety ... I mean that's our number one thing, traffic safety is a big factor in that. And now what we're seeing in the states that have legalized it, we're seeing their numbed of traffic deaths from drugged driving going up 15-20%."

Sheriff Torgerson said a big worry for traffic stops is that there is no roadside tests available to test how high a person is unlike the breathalyzer for alcohol. The only way to tell if a person is under the influence of marijuana is to smell it or have a drug expert pick up on the signs.

One group, Sensible Change Minnesota, mainly deals with medical marijuana overseeing 18,000 patients in the state. Policy Director Maren Schroeder also claimed safety for users and wants to ensure patients don't get left behind.

She tells FOX 47, "We want to make sure the consumers are safe and then we work heavily with the medical cannabis program and have since its implementation in 2015, so we really want to make sure that patient access is taken care of in that law and that patients can benefit from this as well."

Many anticipate that a legalization bill will not get passed by the Republican controlled Senate this year.

Both the House and Senate will reconvene tomorrow at noon.

Zach Fuller

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