Ventura: Walz said cannabis legalization will be ‘one of the first things’ DFL trifecta tackles

Former Gov. Jesse Ventura gave Minnesotans a preview of what unified DFL control of government will look like next year — and it will likely include legal weed.

Speaking Wednesday on his podcast “The Governor’s Office,” Ventura said newly reelected DFL Gov. Tim Walz reached out to him after Democrats gained control of both chambers of the Minnesota Legislature.

“The governor reassured me that one of the first items that will be passed — Minnesota, get ready. Cannabis is going to have its prohibition lifted,” Ventura said.

Ventura, an independent, went on to say that he will have an invitation waiting for him at the bill-signing ceremony if the measure passes the Legislature, noting legalizing cannabis was a policy he pushed for as governor 20 years ago.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Walz confirmed the conversation with Ventura took place.

Minnesota has had one of the only split Legislatures in the country over the past four years, and while the DFL-controlled House has passed bills to legalize adult-use recreational cannabis, they never received a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.

In a news conference on Wednesday, Walz said he believes a bill to legalize cannabis would have wide support among Republican lawmakers.

“I think, again, especially on the cannabis legalization, adult use, that was simply the Senate stalling on that and not doing anything,” Walz said.

Recreational cannabis remains illegal in Minnesota, but hemp-derived THC in edible form did pass the Legislature this year. As of July 1, vendors can sell food and beverages containing no more than 5 mg of THC per serving and a maximum of 50 mg per package.

But that may have happened by accident.

An omnibus bill included a provision titled “nonintoxicating hemp regulation” to address the hemp-derived cannabinoids that were already being sold around the state, sometimes in doses as high as 100 mg per piece.

But in Senate committee hearings, the section received little scrutiny. One Republican lawmaker, Sen. Jim Abeler, even joked, “That doesn’t legalize marijuana … we didn’t just do that, did we?”

The final version of the bill unanimously passed the Senate.