For two months, Minnesota residents have gotten a taste of legal marijuana sales. Now, a new poll shows they are ready for the real thing.
The new MPR News/Star Tribune/KARE 11 survey, which was released on Sunday, found that 53% of registered voters in the Land of 10,000 Lakes support the legalization of recreational cannabis use, while 36% of voters said they were opposed. Eleven percent of Minnesota voters said they were not sure, according to the poll.
The findings come in the shadow of a new state law that took effect in July that permitted the sale of food and drink products that contain a small amount of THC.
The new law slipped through the cracks in the state legislature, catching consumers and even some lawmakers off guard when the edibles hit shelves this past summer.
It was written by Democratic state House Rep. Heather Edelson, who said her intention was to place rules and standards on hemp-derived products that were underregulated.
“There were these products that essentially didn’t really have regulations on them. But people were consuming them,” Edelson said at the time.“They were being sold all over the state of Minnesota, and a lot of them in gas stations.”
Under the new law, food and beverages with .3% THC may be sold so long as the cannabinoid has been derived from legally produced hemp.
That cleared the way for a slew of new edibles sold in Minnesota, prompting some local governments to impose their own restrictions on the sale.
Some Republican lawmakers said they were blindsided and that they had no idea the bill would result in the sale of edibles.
“I thought we were doing a technical fix, and it winded up having a broader impact than I expected,” Republican state Sen. Jim Abeler said at the time.
The findings from the new survey, which was conducted last week, suggest that voters in Minnesota want to go even further with cannabis reform.
As Minnesota Public Radio reported, support “for legalizing cannabis cuts across age groups, voters’ geographic location, level of education, race and gender, with majorities backing the plan across those categories,” although legalization “faces greater opposition among Republicans, with just under 65% of those who identified as Republicans opposing the proposal to make cannabis available for recreational use, compared to 29% of GOP voters who support it.”
The poll was conducted September 12-14 and is based on interviews with 800 registered voters. It has a margin of error of 3.5%.
The Minnesota legislature is currently split, with Democrats controlling the state House and Republicans holding a majority in the state Senate. The state’s Democratic governor, Tim Walz, has expressed his support for the legalization of recreational cannabis use for adults.
In his office’s budget proposal in January, Walz called on the legislature to legalize recreational pot use and establish a new Cannabis Management Office to regulate sales in the state.
The governor’s budget proposal would dedicate “25 million dollars toward the legalization of adult-use marijuana in Minnesota,” FOX9 reported.
The Cannabis Management Office would “be tasked with developing a framework for legal cannabis in Minnesota,” the station reported, and the $25 million in earmarked funds “would also pay for grants for ‘individuals entering the legal cannabis market.’”
On April 20 this year, Walz reiterated his support for the policy.
“It’s time to legalize adult-use cannabis and expunge cannabis convictions in Minnesota,” Walz said on Twitter.
Walz is up for re-election this year. His Republican challenger, Scott Jensen, has said he is in favor of bringing the legalization question before Minnesota voters on the ballot.