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Law enforcement officials express concern about recreational marijuana: “How can we keep the public safe?”

ST. PAUL, Minor — Law enforcement officials expressed deep concern on Thursday about a plan to legalize recreational marijuana in Minnesota.

WCCO’s Esme Murphy reports on a committee hearing that went slowly and generated a lot of drama.

Without saying anything, Republican Rep. Patricia Mueller of Austin dove under the public safety committee’s desk.

“So this is five pounds I get to use props on commissions,” Mueller said with a bag. “In the bill you’re allowed five pounds for personal use and I won’t list everything, but that’s literally 6,800 joints.”

Rep. Mueller didn’t say exactly what was in those bags.

DFL Representative Zach Stephenson, the author of the legalization bill, fired back.

“You mentioned 6,000 joints. I could have 6,000 bottles of Grain Belt Premium in my basement and not break any laws,” Stephenson said.

Rep. Mueller’s amendment to reduce the amount for personal use from five pounds to one was voted down.

The House Public Safety Committee did hear from law enforcement officials opposed.

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Chief Jay Henthorne of Richfield testified on behalf of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association.

“Make no mistake, the bill will lead to major road safety problems and we will see a sharp increase in traffic-related deaths,” Henthorne said.

Sheriff Kevin Torgerson testified before the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association.

“How can we keep the public safe if the legalized marijuana is available before we have an authorized testing procedure,” Torgerson said. “Isn’t that like buying a car without safety features?”

There were those who testified for the bill, but it’s the detailed concerns of law enforcement officials that are among the issues that even supporters question.

Meanwhile, legalization continues to make its way through the legislature.

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