Minnesota legalized medical marijuana two years after Colorado legalized recreational marijuana. Now, it’s a question of when, not if, recreational marijuana will become legal in the state. Some expect the debate over marijuana legalization to heat up in 2018.
So far, five of the six DFL candidates for governor favor marijuana legalizatio, according to Star Tribune. Governor Mark Dayton is retiring. The only vocal opposing candidate is State Auditor Rebecca Otto.
Four of the Republican candidates for governor oppose legalizing marijuana. Minnesota has been up and down when it comes to marijuana. The state hasn’t always been anti-marijuana. Penalties for small amounts of marijuana were reduced in 1976. Recent in-state polls show that 50.6 of those responding at the State Fair’s poll support full legalization for those ages 21 and older.
Representative Tina Liebling said, “A lot of people in our generation realize that the prohibition of marijuana is a failed policy. It’s definitely true that a lot of younger people want this changed. But support for legalization is broader than we might think.”
Liebling introduced a bill to legalize recreational marijuana in the state’s Legislature.
She also said, “I’m not saying that marijuana is harmless. But there are a lot of things in life that are not harmless that we allow to be sold. Legalization would bring a number of benefits. People could know what they are buying, where it came from and how potent it is. I believe we could also do a better job of keeping it away from kids.”
Liebling estimates that Minnesota’s marijuana black market is valued at around $700-million annually.
The upcoming debates and campaigns for the governor’s seat is expected to be heated and for marijuana legalization to be a forefront of discussions in the coming year.