A recent poll on various policy proposals conducted on behalf of Minnesota House lawmakers revealed support for marijuana legalization to be the most popular option presented to voters.
Fifty-eight percent of around 5,200 respondents to the 2021 House of Representatives State Fair Poll said they would be in favor of adult-use marijuana legalization in the state. The last time the lower chamber carried out such a poll in 2019, support for the measure stood at 56 percent.
Though the sample of respondents wasn’t random, marijuana reform advocates in Minnesota can take heart from the large sample size and the fact that legalizing cannabis enjoyed more support than eleven other policy proposals, such as legal sports gambling, take-away alcoholic beverages, a school-wide mask mandate, automatic voter registration and a ban on flavored tobacco.
Earlier this year, Minnesota’s House of Representatives passed a bill to legalize recreational marijuana, but it faltered in the Republican-led Senate.
While the Senate didn’t carry out a State Fair poll this year, in 2019 it similarly reported that a majority of respondents (55 percent) favor cannabis legalization.
The sponsor of the failed bill to legalize cannabis in Minnesota, House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (D), wanted to convene a special session in order to get his marijuana bill over the line but it didn’t come to pass.
Even if Winkler and the Democratic-led House could piece together a cannabis legalization bill palatable to most Republicans in the Senate, it would still have faced a tough time convincing Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R). The cannabis reform skeptic recently announced, however, that he will resign as the Senate’s leader for the upcoming session as he weighs up the possibility of running for governor.
Meanwhile, Winkler and other cannabis reform advocates await to see whether the GOP will nominate a new Senate Majority Leader more minded toward legalizing marijuana. Winkler had previously indicated that if his legalization bill didn’t pass the Senate this past session, he would hope lawmakers would allow voters to decide on the measure through a statewide ballot in 2022. But should a reform-friendly Republican take the helm at the Senate, Winkler may like his chances of passing the measure through the legislature.
Gov. Tim Walz has previously urged lawmakers to move on the reform in order to generate new revenues, and advance racial justice and social equity. The governor also recently signed a bill into law allowing medical cannabis patients to access smokable forms of the drug.