The Battle Over Marijuana Legalization in Minnesota

The Battle Over Marijuana Legalization in Minnesota

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Earlier this week I wrote about the launch of the campaign to legalize cannabis for adult use in Minnesota. Since Minnesota is one of about two dozen states that doesn’t allow citizens to bring issues to voters via ballot, activists must focus on the Minnesota state legislature.

Minnesota voters have developed a bit of a reputation for being unpredictable at times; Minnesota was the only state in the win column for Democratic Presidential candidate Walter Mondale in 1984 (to be fair, it was his home state) and they made Jesse Ventura their 38th governor in 1998.

Whether or not these quirks will translate into state legislators approving marijuana legalization remains to be seen. After all, supporting cannabis law reform is not exactly a “maverick” position to have anymore. This is all the more reason to believe activists in Minnesota have a great shot at bringing real reform to their state this year.

Working toward that end is the pro-legalization group Minnesotans for Responsible Marijuana Regulation (MRMR). Described on their website as “a broad coalition of Minnesota organizations and individuals supporting and advocating for the legalization and regulation of marijuana in Minnesota for adult recreational use”, MRMR boasts a support roster that includes the Mayor of Minneapolis.

And MRMR hopes to educate state legislators and their constituents about why legalization is the best path to take. “We started Minnesotans for Responsible Marijuana Regulation because we believe now is the time to have substantive, collaborative, inclusive conversations that help shape what marijuana legalization and policy look like in Minnesota,” Laura Monn Ginsburg, the MRMR Campaign Co-Manager, told The Marijuana Times. “To that end, we decided to launch the campaign with a Steering Committee made of a diverse group of individuals that can work toward thoughtful, thorough, and equitable ways marijuana could be legalized and regulated in Minnesota. We intend to take the conversation well beyond the Capitol, and head out throughout the state to engage and listen.”

Laura told us that although a lack of ballot access is a challenge, legalization has several things going for it. “There are a number of things that work greatly to our advantage here in Minnesota: we have legalized medicinal marijuana, we have the experience of other states to draw from, we have two marijuana legalization parties that reached the threshold for major political party status, and we have a Governor and many other elected officials who openly support legalization and did so when they were campaigning,” she said.

Laura told us that MRMR wants “marijuana legalization in Minnesota to promote economic opportunity and public safety in every community and to redress the disproportionate adverse impacts that marijuana prohibition has had on our residents and communities of color. That’s going to require tough work engaging with many stakeholder groups, but that’s precisely the work we established MRMR to do.”

So far, Laura told us that the feedback in the state has been overwhelmingly positive, even though there are still some who are not ready to engage in a discussion about legalization. Sadly, those people will be left behind, on the wrong side of an issue that’s time has clearly come.

If you live in Minnesota and support adult-use legalization, the time to make your voice heard has come as well.

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