ST PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz says he's ordered state agencies to be prepared to legalize recreational marijuana next year if the Legislature approves a bill.
But Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka says he'll block the bill in the Republican-controlled chamber.
Walz tells Minnesota Public Radio News that he's relying on supporters to continue pushing for legalization.
"My agencies have been tasked to put all of the building blocks in place," Walz said. "From (the Department of) Revenue to the Department of Public Safety, to the Department of Health, we will have everything ready to go and we will be ready to implement it in Minnesota, the minute the legislature moves this."
House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler says he plans to sponsor a legalization bill next year.
Minnesota's Senate rejected a bill last session that would have decriminalized recreational marijuana in 2022. Critics highlighted concerns about marijuana's effect on traffic accidents, underage use and drug treatment.
"We didn't even do a study group," Gazelka said. "We just defeated it, so that's the Senate position and so for him to move forward is a bit of a surprise. We're not going to take this up next year."
Legalization proponents say opposition in the Senate should be removed in the 2020 election.
Eleven states and the District of Columbia have already permitted recreational marijuana for adult use.
Gazelka says he supports Minnesota's medical marijuana law, but as long as he's Senate majority leader, he says he'll work to make sure Minnesota isn't the 12th state to embrace pot for recreational use.
"I don't think we should. I think it's bad for Minnesota," he said.