Marijuana Legalization Wafts on to Campaign Trail in Minnesota Races

November 02, 2018 10:18 PM

It's an issue some smaller political parties have pushed for years in Minnesota: Legalization of marijuana.

The 2018 election has been different as more of the larger parties’ candidates in the DFL and GOP have discussed different aspects of the issue in the races for governor and attorney general.

KSTP/SurveyUSA Legalization of Marijuana Numbers
YES - 56 percent
NO - 32 percent
NOT SURE - 12 percent


SurveyUSA interviewed 1,000 state of Minnesota adults from Oct. 29, 2018 through Oct. 31, 2018. Of the adults, 833 are registered to vote. The margin of error was +/-4.2 percent.

"I think it depends on how supporters translate their support,” said University of Minnesota Political Science Professor Kathryn Pearson. “If they are pressuring lawmakers, writing letters to their legislator, if they are going to St. Paul and talking about this issue, that will increase the chances the legislature would consider it."

Pearson said the political makeup of the Minnesota House and Senate are key to any marijuana legislation advancing.

Attorney General Race

"I just think it's unacceptable to be against marijuana legalization this day and age," said Noah M. Johnson, whose name will appear on the ballot for Minnesota Attorney General. “Republicans are concerned about issues of liberty and justice, usually in different ways than Democrats, it's a bipartisan issue."

Johnson, a Minneapolis lawyer, is part of the Grassroots - Legalize Cannabis Party.

He’s now backing one of his opponents in the race, the DFL’s Keith Ellison, after he came out in support of legalization.

At a recent KSTP attorney general debate in St. Paul, Ellison and Republican Doug Wardlow were both asked about legalization of marijuana.

"I think it should be done carefully," Ellison said. "It should be done thoughtfully,"

"That's a legislative question, but the attorney general job is to enforce the law, not to pass laws and not to push policies," said Wardlow.

More from KSTP

Candidates for Governor

The two men running for the top spot on the ticket, Minnesota’s next governor, have both spoken out about various aspects of marijuana from legalization and state taxation of the product to re-evaluating punishment for small amounts.

"Let's make sure it's regulated," Walz said in an interview with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. “Let’s make sure people who want to … use it in a responsible manner and the state benefits."    

His opponent in the Republican party, Jeff Johnson, does not support legalization.

"I also don't think, however, people should be using up jail space because they smoked pot on their own without hurting anyone, maybe a move towards decriminalization," Johnson said in a previous interview.

Deeper Data Dive

When those who participated in the poll identified themselves by political ideology, 44 percent of supporters of marijuana legalization said they were conservatives.

The southern region of Minnesota had the largest group opposed, while most supporters of the issue were found in the Twin Cities.

When looking at gender, 58 percent of men supported it along with 55 percent of women polled.

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Eric Chaloux

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


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