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Minnesota Governor Says Marijuana Legalization Coming

They’re already planning the legalization party in Minnesota. And former Gov. Jesse Ventura will be there, too

The Minnesota Sun

They’re already writing up invitations for the legalization gala in Minnesota. Incumbent Governor Tim Walz (DFL) is planning for Cannabis legalization with Democrats newly in control of the Minnesota Legislature.

The governor promised it will be “one of the first” bills to pass in 2023, according to former Gov. Jesse Ventura, reports Marijuana Moment. Walz called him to chat about the implications of this week’s election results, Ventura said Wednesday.

Walz extended an invitation to former wrestling star Ventura, a longtime cannabis activist, to the anticipated signing ceremony once lawmakers deliver a legalization bill to the governor’s desk.

Ventura disclosed details about the conversation during a live Clubhouse stream. Walz’s office confirmed that the two had the discussion in a statement to CBS Minnesota. The incumbent’s office said that they “may work together to get something done.”

“This Started With You”

“The sticking point for cannabis in Minnesota were the Republicans and the House they controlled,” Ventura said. “Well, they’ve lost it now. And the governor reassured me that one of the first items that will be passed—Minnesota, get ready—cannabis is going to have its prohibition lifted.”

Ventura said Walz invited him to the signing ceremony. The incumbent told Ventura that’s because “this started with you, so you deserve to be there to see it come to a close over 20 years later.”

Walz saluted Ventura’s early advocacy on the marijuana issue during his own tenure as Minnesota governor. In late October, Ventura endorsed Walz’s reelection campaign, reports FOX 9.

Walz has already voiced his support for legalization, reports Bring Me The News. The governor vowed he would sign a bill if it got to his desk. However, pot-hating Republicans have controlled the Senate during Walz’s tenure. The resulted in a legalization proposal coming to a screeching halt after being passed by the DFL-controlled Minnesota House. (DFL stands for Democratic-Farmer-Labor party.)

Votes Can Have Good Consequences

Ventura served as Minnesota governor from 1999 to 2003. He also coauthored a book titled Marijuana Manifesto, further detailing his thoughts on the herb.

“I couldn’t even get anyone to carry the bill 20 years ago,” Ventura said of legalization.

Voters flipped the Minnesota Senate, which had been under GOP control going into this week’s midterms. When Minnesota’s DFL, the state’s version of Democrats, took over the Senate with Tuesday’s midterm vote, that released the logjam.

House Passed Legalization Last Year; Stalled In Senate

The Minnesota House passed a bill last May to allow adult-use recreational cannabis in the state. It also had provisions that expunged low-level cannabis convictions, including for possessing small amounts. But the legislation failed in the Minnesota Senate, reports CBS News.

That’s because hidebound conservative Republicans rejected it. A few of them expressed some openness to future decriminalization.

In July, a new law went into effect allowing adults 21 and up to buy edibles and beverages containing a limited amount of hemp-derived THC. Sen. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka) is chair of the Senate Human Services Reform Finance and Policy Committee. He claimed he didn’t realize the legislation would legalize edibles with delta-9 THC.

Abeler said he thought it would merely regulate delta-8 THC products. Their legalization was, in appearance at least, the result of a legislative mistake.

Licensing Could Happen As Soon As March

A 2020 report from the ACLU of Minnesota showed the state ranking eighth in the nation for the largest racial disparities in Cannabis possession arrests, reports Benzinga. The analysis found Black people in Minnesota are 5.4 times more likely to be arrested than white Minnesotans, despite comparable usage rates. 

Based on Gov. Walz’s remarks this year, he may also expunge past marijuana convictions in the state, reports the Daily Wire. Walz’s comments were made before President Joe Biden’s mass pardon last month of those convicted of simple Cannabis possession.

Last year, Minnesota finally relaxed its medical marijuana law to allow patients to smoke Cannabis flowers.

If the Minnesota Legislature legalizes adult-use marijuana in January 2023, some observers believe licensing could happen as early as March, reports KARE 11.

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