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Election Year Might Help Pro-Marijuana Groups Sway Some MN Lawmakers

There's a push to add Minnesota to the list of nearly a dozen states that have legalized marijuana. (Adobe Stock)
There's a push to add Minnesota to the list of nearly a dozen states that have legalized marijuana. (Adobe Stock)
February 7, 2020

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Supporters of legalizing marijuana in Minnesota say they still face long odds getting a bill passed this year - but they think the 2020 election might convince some lawmakers to give it more thought.

Democrats in the Minnesota Legislature announced this week they'll make a strong push this session for a legalization bill, although Senate Republicans remain strongly opposed.

Marty Super, chairman of the Legal Marijuana Now political party, says the roadblock can't be ignored. But he points out that lawmakers might be wondering what voters are thinking during a presidential election year.

"They'll be there to vote for the president, and then the representatives and senators," says Super. "They might not have made up their minds as much on those. And they might vote for a pro-legalization candidate."

In the 2019 Minnesota House of Representatives' State Fair Opinion Poll, 56% of respondents supported recreational marijuana use. Senate Republicans say their concerns are underscored by experts from Colorado who testified at a hearing last year about some of the issues that state has faced since legalization.

Pat Bradley, deputy director of the Minnesota chapter's of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws or 'NORML,' says those concerns are overblown.

"This material, this product, this plant, is safer than the things that we already have as legal for use by adults - nicotine and alcohol," says Bradley. "And it can be regulated in a manner very similar."

At the very least, advocates hope lawmakers approve more expansions of the state's medical marijuana program, which is considered one of the most restrictive in the country.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - MN