Minnesota Gov. Walz Approves Overdose Prevention Centers, Solicits Vendors For Legal Weed Program

Rhode Island recently became the first state to endorse the establishment of overdose prevention centers. Now, Minnesota has followed suit, becoming the second state to formally support these types of centers to help combat the opioid epidemic, reported the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).

On Wednesday, Governor Tim Walz signed Senate File 2934, the Human Services budget proposal, which includes a section mandating the Minnesota Commissioner of Human Services to “establish safe recovery sites that offer harm reduction services and supplies, including but not limited to safe injection spaces.”

Under the proposal, $14 million in one-time financial aid is earmarked to be distributed annually until 2029. This funding, included in the Governor’s biennial budget recommendations to the Minnesota Legislature, will be used to facilitate the launch of safe recovery sites and expand their capacities.

Emily Kaltenbach, senior director of criminal legal and policing reform for the DPA called the Governor’s move a “critical turning point” for Minnesota, as it chose “a health approach over ineffective and harmful criminal approaches to respond to the overdose crisis moving forward.”

In the overdose prevention centers, people are allowed to consume pre-obtained illicit drugs in controlled settings under the supervision of trained staff with access to sterile consumption equipment, tools to check their supply for the presence of fentanyl, as well as connections to health care, counseling and referrals to health and social services, including drug treatment. 

The country’s first overdose prevention centers were opened in New York City in 2021.

State Officials Are Getting Ready For Marijuana Legalization

Meanwhile, Gov. Walz has pledged to sign a bill legalizing recreational cannabis after Memorial Day, now that it sailed smoothly through the state legislature. As Minnesota becomes the 23rd state to legalize cannabis, officials are soliciting vendors to help build a licensing system for the new market, reported Marijuana Moment.

The Department of Information Technology Services (MNIT) has teamed up with the Departments of Health and Agriculture and the still-being-established Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) to find a “vendor to provide the software required to accept license applications, process applications, issue licenses, and allow licensees to manage their licenses related to Adult Use of Cannabis.”

According to a request for proposal posted on Wednesday, officials plan to begin processing license applications in May 2024, with retail sales expected to kick off on January 1, 2025.

Photo: Courtesy of Raghavendra V. Konkathi on Unsplash


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Posted In: CannabisGovernmentNewsPoliticsMarketsGeneralEmily KaltenbachMinnesota cannabisoverdose prevention centersTim Walz
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