Following an unintended two-month “test period,” two new surveys reveal that most Minnesotans continue to want recreational marijuana legalized.
For the past two months, citizens of Minnesota have been allowed to receive a small taste of what life in the Land of 10,000 Lakes would be like with legal marijuana sales. And according to two new polls, a majority of them would like that experience to become a more permanent situation.
As recently reported in High Times, the new MPR News/Star Tribune/KARE 11 survey, released on September 18th, found that 53% of registered voters in Minnesota support legal recreational cannabis use, while 36% of voters said they were opposed. An additional eleven percent said they were unsure.
Another poll conducted by KSTP and SurveyUSA found that 57% of those surveyed favor recreational cannabis legalization, including a majority of Democrats (62%), Republicans (52%), and independents (57%).
The results come on the heels of a new state law signed into effect by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz (D) in June. The measure includes provisions to provide permanent protections allowing state hemp businesses to market certain cannabis products legally.
Sponsored by Democratic state House Rep. Heather Edelson, the new law caught consumers and lawmakers off guard when the edible products began hitting shelves this past summer. According to Edelson, her intention was to place rules and standards on the previously underregulated hemp-derived products.
As she says, “There were these products that essentially didn’t really have regulations on them. But people were consuming them. They were being sold all over the state of Minnesota.” Under the new law, all hemp-derived cannabinoids, including CBD, can be legally sold in food items, beverages, topicals, and more—as long as the products contain less than the federal limit of 0.3% THC. In addition, edible and beverage products must be limited to a total of 5 mg THC per serving and 50 mg per package.
"There were these products that essentially didn’t really have regulations on them. But people were consuming them. They were being sold all over the state of Minnesota.”
- Rep. Heather Edelson (D), MN State House
Republican State Sen. Jim Abeler also shares, “I thought we were doing a technical fix, and it winded up having a broader impact than I expected.” The unintended consequence was that Minnesotans actually got a literal taste of what legal recreational cannabis would be like, and as the two polls indicate, they want more.
"I thought we were doing a technical fix, and it winded up having a broader impact than I expected.”
- Sen. Jim Abeler (R), MN State Senate
The KSTP/Survey USA poll included interviews with 775 Minnesota adults from August 30th to September 4th, with a margin of error of about +/- 4 percentage points. Participants in this survey were also asked about the new law allowing the sale of edibles derived from hemp containing 0.3% THC or less.
A significant majority (66%) approved the legislature’s decision on that reform. And, much like with the overall support for legalized recreational cannabis, approval for the measure was strongly bipartisan, with 76% of Democrats, 63% of Republicans, and 63% of Independents backing the policy change.
The MPR News/Star Tribune/KARE 11 poll, which was conducted from September 12th - 14th and included interviews with 800 registered voters with a margin of error of 3.5%, was a little more partisan in nature.
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.”
"...legalizing cannabis cuts across age groups, voters’ geographic location, level of education, race, and gender, with majorities backing the plan across those categories."
- As Reported by MN Public Radio (MPR)
Similarly, the Minnesota state legislature is split down political lines as well, with the Democratically-controlled House favoring legalization and the Republican-controlled Senate still opposing legal marijuana initiatives. However, with a pro-cannabis Democrat inhabiting the governor’s mansion and this newly released poll ammunition, there is consistent and continued momentum for moving Minnesota closer and closer to full recreational legalization.
In his office’s budget proposal released in January of this year, Walz implored the legislature to make recreational marijuana use legal and called for establishing a new Cannabis Management Office to regulate cannabis sales in the state. The governor’s budget proposal would dedicate $25 million toward the legalization of adult-use cannabis in Minnesota,
On April 20th, Walz reiterated his support for the policy by sharing on Twitter, “It’s time to legalize adult-use cannabis and expunge cannabis convictions in Minnesota.”
"It’s time to legalize adult-use cannabis and expunge cannabis convictions in Minnesota.”
- MN Governor Tim Walz (D) via Twitter
Sometimes the best consequences are the unintended kind. In an effort to improve the regulation of the previously under-monitored hemp-based edible products being manufactured and sold in the state, Minnesotans were allowed to make a literally informed decision on whether or not recreational cannabis should be made legal in the state.
And numbers don’t lie. The majority want legalization sooner than later. As election day approaches, politicians wanting to be on the right side of this issue have some hard numbers to contemplate regarding which way they will side on statewide legal recreational use of marijuana. With that in mind, don’t forget to vote this November!