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Is Minnesota Ready to Legalize Pot?

Russ Belville



Public Policy Polling has released a survey commissioned by Minnesota NORML from January 18-21, 2015, that provides some keen insight on the potential for legalization in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

The usual question of whether marijuana should be taxed and regulated has now evolved in many of these polls. This one asks, “Do you think marijuana should be legalized and regulated in Minnesota like it is in Colorado, Washington, and like it will be in Oregon, Alaska and Washington D.C.?” That’s an odd way for us reformers to hear the question, as we’re aware that legalization in the four states differs quite a bit. Washington doesn’t allow home grows and Colorado doesn’t allow out-of-state investment. Alaska and Oregon will tax by weight, not sales, and lack an unscientific DUID standard. Washington DC will have no marijuana commerce at all, just “grow and give” legalization.

But to the mainstream, the question just means “should we follow the first four states that have stopped treating pot as a crime?” To that sentiment, a plurality of 49% of Minnesotans agree, with just 44% opposed. Women are split 46/46 while a majority of men support legalization 51/43. A five-point gender gap, however, is less than what we find in other polls.

Another typical question, “Do you think Minnesotans should be allowed to consume marijuana for medical purposes?” garners far greater support. Over three-in-four Minnesotans (76%) support medical access to marijuana, with little difference in support by gender, race, age, or geographic region. Only Republicans showed significantly less support at 61% and Native Americans showed far greater support at 93%.

Slim majorities in Minnesota believe that marijuana prohibition is not more effective than alcohol prohibition was (54%); that the people, not politicians, should decide marijuana’s legality (52%); and that Minnesota’s economy would benefit from market legalization of marijuana (51%). There was no demographic that believed marijuana prohibition was effective, but women and Republicans were less likely to believe market legalization would help the economy.

Finally, a plurality of Minnesotans (46%) believes that not enforcing marijuana prohibition would make Minnesota safer by allowing police to concentrate their efforts on real crime. But 40% disagreed and 14% were not sure. A majority of Republicans (52%), African-Americans (55%), and Latinos (54%) disagreed that ending prohibition makes Minnesota safer.