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Minnesota Governor Explains Why He Wants Double The Marijuana Tax Rate Compared To The Legislature’s Reform Bill

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Key Minnesota lawmakers and the governor agree that marijuana should be legalized in the state. But one area where they aren’t exactly aligned is the tax rate for cannabis products.

The bill that’s been advancing in House and Senate committees in recent weeks calls for an eight percent marijuana excise tax. Gov. Tim Walz (D) thinks that should be almost doubled, proposing a 15 percent tax as part of his biennial budget request.

The legalization legislation has moved through six House committees and four Senate panels, with the tax rate so far unchanged.

Rep. Zack Stephenson (D), sponsor of the House version, says the priority should be ensuring that the tax is low enough to effectively transition people away from the illicit market while still covering administrative costs and key programs, including those meant to promote social equity.

In an interview with Fox 9 that aired late last week, the governor said that he understood that need—but “the evidence doesn’t show” that his higher tax proposal would help the illicit market thrive. At the same time, he feels there’s a need to generate more tax revenue to support substance misuse treatment, in part to appeal to legalization opponents.

“I certainly

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DeSantis’s Marijuana Opposition Campaign In Florida Raises Just $10,000 As Pro-Legalization Committee Rakes In Tens Of Millions

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) recently launched political action committee opposing a marijuana legalization ballot initiative has so far raised only $10,000—just 1/6,000th of the amount of money that’s poured into the effort to pass the cannabis measure.

As of last week, the DeSantis “Florida Freedom Fund” has only raised $10,000 in contributions—all coming from a former Republican congressman representing Pennsylvania, campaign finance records from the Division of Elections records show. By contrast, the Smart & Safe Florida campaign behind the marijuana initiative has raised over $60 million.

Of course, the PAC founded by the governor only launched in May, whereas the cannabis campaign has been active since late 2022. Even so, the early numbers seem to signal a lack of enthusiasm among prospective donors about supporting the effort to derail marijuana legalization, as well as an abortion rights proposal that the DeSantis committee is also seeking to defeat.

Former U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA), the DeSantis committee’s sole donor—voted against numerous amendment in Congress to shield state marijuana laws from federal interference. He also opposed measures on cannabis banking and to allow Department of Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical marijuana.

The campaign finance data was first reported by

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Maryland Governor Launches Marijuana Workforce Development Program Focused On People Criminalized Over Cannabis

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The governor of Maryland has launched a first-of-its-kind marijuana workforce development program, with a focus on supporting industry participation by people who’ve been criminalized over cannabis.

Less than two weeks after issuing a mass pardon for over 175,000 marijuana and paraphernalia convictions, Gov. Wes Moore (D) announced the Cannabis Workforce Development Program—a free service for eligible applicants that is being jointly run by the the Maryland Cannabis Administration (MCA) and the Maryland Department of Labor (DOL).

“This groundbreaking collaboration will support Marylanders interested in joining the state’s growing cannabis industry and prioritize individuals and communities directly impacted by the War on Drugs,” Moore said in a press release on Thursday. “For decades, cannabis policy has been used as a cudgel. Together, we prove how cannabis policy can be used as a valuable tool to leave no one behind.”

Through the program, participants will be able to take eight self-paced courses taught by industry experts, licensed marijuana business operators and college professors. After completing 100 hours of virtual instruction, they will also be able to enroll in a two-day, in-person course for occupational training.

The governor’s office says the initiative “will help reduce barriers to employment and create paths to sustainable

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Kentucky Launches Medical Marijuana Applications Six Months Early, Governor Announces

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Kentucky will start accepting license applications for prospective medical marijuana businesses beginning next week—six months ahead of schedule—the governor announced on Thursday.

Just over a year after signing a medical cannabis legalization bill into law, Gov. Andy Beshear (D) said regulators will start taking medical marijuana business license applications on Monday, July 1.

“This administration has been working hard to expedite the timeline for making medical cannabis available to Kentuckians with serious medical conditions,” Beshear said in a press release. “I am pleased to report that Team Kentucky will begin accepting applications from prospective medical cannabis businesses beginning next Monday, July 1–a full 6 months ahead of schedule.”

The governor also announced that the state Board of Medical Licensure and Board of Nursing will be simultaneously start issuing permits for doctors and nurses to issue medical cannabis recommendations to patients at the beginning of next month.

“We are excited that the program will be able to issue licenses in 2024 rather than 2025,” Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander said. “From its inception, the program has been focused on ensuring patients with serious medical conditions like cancer, PTSD, multiple sclerosis and other symptoms and conditions have safe

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