Is Minnesota on the Fast Track to Legalization? | Marijuana

Is Minnesota on the Fast Track to Legalization?


Typically, conversations centering on which state will legalize cannabis next do not find their way to Minnesota, where current Governor Mark Dayton is a staunch opponent of cannabis legalization. In a 2014 poll on the topic, just 30 percent of Minnesotans who responded believed marijuana should be legalized for adults in the state.

But things have certainly changed in the last few years.

During the 12-day Minnesota State Fair, the House of Representatives conducts a wide-ranging poll of fair-goers to gain insight into trends among the state’s population. One of the questions Minnesotans were asked was if they would support the legalization of marijuana for adults above the age of 21. Over 7,100 respondents answered the question, with a slight majority (50.2 percent) favoring recreational legalization.

And this major shift in cannabis cognizance isn’t isolated to voters, either. Among the major candidates for Governor of Minnesota in the incumbent Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) party, all but one wholeheartedly supports the legalization of marijuana.

United States Representative Tim Walz, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, and state Representatives Erin Murphy, Tina Liebling, and Paul Thissen each want to see adults in Minnesota gain legal access to marijuana for recreational use — State Auditor Rebecca Otto is the lone gubernatorial candidate who opposes legal weed in the state.

“When you confront the reality of the cost of criminalization vs. the benefits of legalization, I think the benefits outweigh the costs,” explained Mayor Coleman to the Star Tribune.

Governor Dayton’s current term expires in 2018 and he has already announced he will not seek reelection. On the other side of the aisle, all four prominent Republican candidates for governor want to keep marijuana illegal for adult use.

Republicans have control of the Minnesota Senate until the 2020 election, and unlike many other states that have advanced marijuana reform with the help of voter-led initiatives, Minnesota state law doesn’t allow for that kind of campaign. Thus, the burden of ending prohibition in the state will fall on the shoulders of its lawmakers. Thankfully, there appears to be an influx of progressive new candidates who recognize the immense benefit of a regulated cannabis market.

“The system we have had was that we looked the other way, unless you’re a person of color, in which case you face the threat of arrest and incarceration,” said Walz.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, a Black person is 7.81 times more likely to be arrested for a marijuana-related charge in Minnesota than a White person, while the arrest rate nationally is (a still inexcusable) 3.73 times higher for Black people — marijuana usage rates are roughly the same for each group of Americans.

“To me it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when, and I think the time is now,” Coleman added.

Image Courtesy of Allie Beckett

About Author

Used to write about music for XXL, Elevator, Complex, Genius, and a few other outlets. Follow @LongLiveTheDuke on Twitter if you'd like to read way fewer words by me.


  1. Lawrence Goodwin on

    A great report from Minnesota, Duke. You could easily substitute New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the first paragraph and still be spot on. The man literally hates pot smokers so he discriminates against them by peddling the “gateway” nonsense in public, as a means to justify his own relentless and “staunch” opposition to “adult use.” It is the height of arrogance for strongly weed-biased politicians to dominate such policies for millions of constituents. At last, Cuomo has offered some support to NY hemp farmers and “medical cannabis” for ~20,000 active patients. But in 2014 he was in cahoots with Minnesota officials as they imposed a preposterous rule of “no smoking” flower/hash/extracts, etc.–all in a vain attempt to ‘recreate the wheel’ of medical cannabis in both states. It’s none of the damned politicians’ business how cannabis is produced and consumed. Their only job is to ensure that all forms of cultivation and commerce are safe. They either understand the importance of limited government, free trade and ‘pursuit of happiness,’ or they do not.

    p.s. to Ms. Allie Beckett, who perfectly reveals the beauty and mystery of cannabis plants in every image: time and work have preoccupied me, but soon I will visit CannaObscura for the literature, as we discussed before.✌️

  2. Brendan J. O’Connell on

    It is so wrong that alcohol is legal and marijuana is illegal. As a Recovering alcoholic I have the experience of falling down the downward spiral of the defined “depressant” alcohol more than once, and marijuana doesn’t create this. Alcohol kills the brain, weakens every muscle in the body, while marijuana stimulates synapses and creates a very relaxing “hangover” and after effect. For those who appose the legalization of marijuana I only have to say: just because it’s legal doesn’t mean one has to partake in it, and where’s your United States of American pride? Canada is beating us at something.

    • Because of the recent epidemic of drug overdoses from legal narcotics it should be considered potential murder to not give Americans a choice to medicate with marijuana

  3. It’s a shame that this is even illegal still in this day in age when it has so many very good and helpful uses. It’s a shame that some doctors will not give us are medications because we choose to use are marijuana for other medical issues that we don’t need the pills for that never worked but marijuana did and that’s a shame.. No one should have their kids took away because of it. I’m ashamed of this state and the people who run it. Shame on u.

    • I am a recovering cancer patient, a DES daughter. I was poisoned inutero and born with cancer. I am chemical sensitive and suffer from claustrophobia, rage and or nausea when exposed to a large number of petrochemicals. I cannot drink or I may experience rage or claustrophobia. Marijuana stops or lessens these attacks. I drive in traffic with the windows up because the gas fumes may cause an attack. I love my home in Mn but my doctor has advised me to move for my health. ,

  4. We need lawmakers who understand the true wants and needs of Minnesota’s residents. Even with medical legalization I know many who still can’t get it when they have seizures. This means they have to use illegally because we still have lawmakers sticking to the stigma of marijuana use. We need a change and an honest poll in this state. Minnesota has neglected the voices of many of it’s residents especially those in need.

    • I am a recovering cancer patient, a DES daughter. I am sensitive to petrochemical in their many forms. I suffer from claustrophobia, rage and or nausea when I am exposed. Marijuana stops or lessens these attacks. I ride in cars with the windows up because the gas fumes may cause an attack. I love my home in Mn but my doctor has advised me to move for my health

  5. I really really really am tired of who Mark Dayton seems to represent in my state. It has never been me and I am on the Democrat side of the coin. We need progressive change. And Mark has never been one for anything like that. “Keep your head down, they can’t fire you if they can’t find you.” Colman for Governor!

  6. Stevie weevie on

    You knew Mark Dayton was bad news for marijuana legalization when he exposed his complete cluelessness and ignorance by comparing it to the opiate crisis. He said that legalizing it now, while we are in the midst of a wide spread opiate crisis would be irresponsible(paraphrasing). Anybody who wants marijuana, can get it easily… Minnesotans have spent an estimated $700 million on the black market last year for it. He’s only been successful at demonstrating his archaic way of thinking and denying Minnesotans MILLIONS in tax revenue that could help repair our equally archaic infrastructure

  7. people who don’t like legal marijuana do not know what they are talking about.Years ago the cowboys and indians got together on thanks giving. They all smoked off the peace pipe and got the munchies. every thing was fine until after dinner. The cowboys brought in the fire water, they blacked out, shot and killed all the indians . When people smoke pot they don’t black out they eat a good meal and go to sleep. Opiots kill people but marijuana heals people and helps them stay away from the cocaine and other drugs. pot should be legal which will take away all the money from black market dealers. Our state needs the money very badly. Why don’t you legalize weed? it will solve alot of problems that people are complaining about. MN will bring in an extra 200 million each year from taxes and the legal sale of marijuana. DO IT NOW< STOP THE MADNESS.

  8. josh stenstrom on

    they need to let us the people smoke and have a choice to use or not without getting a ticket or jail in mn it’s helps people more the ever I have ptsd but I’m the criminal lol saport my lyrics uncle josh c-LIFE soundcloud one LUV free C-murda

  9. This has always been about revenue. The Feds and State make a lot of money on enforcement, fines, etc. from mj. The government isn’t interested in legalization nor decriminalization, nor taxation. That will have to come from the voters

  10. Luke Theisen on

    the people and politicians who oppose cannabis have never fucking tried it and have no damn clue the medical benefits of it and how it makes you feel. Gov. Dayton needs it more than anybody esle. I am sick and tired of politicians controlling what we can take to ease our physical and mental pain. the reason that pot has not been legalized across the USA is simple, pharmaceutical companies would lose billions, yes i said billions, in potential sales and eventually have to fold up shop. jeff sessions the USA attorney general, has strongly opposed legalizing pot, he puts pot in the same category as meth and cocaine, that is one person who has never smoked pot or taken it for medical purposes. as a recovered meth addict, i rather smoke pot than take meth, pot has never killed one person ever, the arugement is that pot is a gateway drug to other drugs, and that pot kills, its not the pot that kills it the other drugs that person is taking that kills them. STOP BE FUCKING IGNORANT ABOUT POT.

  11. Michael Milner Ret. U S N on

    Marijuana is a plant given to man by the Creator. (Genesis 1:29) as were the seeds of knowledge. What has been known to be the truth is our elected officials have totally forgot what they were elected to do, and that is to pass laws to make the lives of their voters better, Minnesota has some of the biggest hypricrits in this countries government.

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