Jeff Johnson is the only Republican candidate for governor who supports medical marijuana

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Dank Depot
Medical marijuana activists see the state's new law as only the beginning of broader reform. They've vowed to continue fighting at the Capitol and extend coverage to thousands more Minnesotans.

Success or failure depends not only on the stamina of such activists, but on the outcome of this fall's elections, particularly in the race for governor. Of course, a lot can happen in a year. But it's worth considering where the remaining candidates stand on this single issue to get a better sense of the difficulty of the task ahead.

See also:
How the MN Board of Pharmacy advocated for and against medical marijuana research


On the right, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson has emerged as both the MN GOP endorsee and the only supporter of medical marijuana (now that state Sen. Dave Thompson has bowed out). Although Johnson considers himself a "pretty strong social conservative," he's expressed repeated support for Illinois's four-year pilot program, which allows smoking and covers a relatively wide range of illnesses. It more closely resembles the Minnesota Senate proposal that got eclipsed in the final bill here.

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Jeff Johnson
As a state representative, Johnson once sat on the Public Safety Policy and Finance Committee, but he claims he never seriously considered the issue until he announced his candidacy for governor.

He explained his position this way: "When I hear doctors say, 'I've had patients who at the end of their lives are suffering terribly, and if I had this option it would be a better option than anything else I could give to them to die peacefully,' that's powerful."

The three remaining candidates vying for the Republican primary have not been shy about their opposition. Businessman Scott Honour has argued that states should not supersede federal jurisdiction when it comes to prescription drugs.

Both Marty Seifert, a former state representative, and Kurt Zellers, a current state representative from Maple Grove, voted against a 2009 medical marijuana proposal that was later vetoed by then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Zellers also voted against this year's modest proposal in the House that became the basis of the law.

"I haven't seen legislation that I could support yet," Zellers told reporters in late March. "What you're seeing in California is that there are all kinds of 15-year-olds walking around with glaucoma apparently because they are able to get prescriptions willy-nilly. I think that's an absolute wrong place for our state to go."

Gov. Mark Dayton's position, meanwhile, has been well documented and scrutinized, and some critics tie it directly to his falling poll numbers. A KSTP/Survey USA Poll, taken in the midst of the public backlash in April, registered a whopping 40 percent disapproval rating.

And let us not forget the state's third parties. Candidates for Independence, Libertarian, Green, and, of course, Grassroots have all made meaningful marijuana reform a part of their platform.

-- Follow Jesse Marx on Twitter @marxjesse or send tips to jmarx@citypages.com



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16 comments
vonlogau
vonlogau

In 1998, two powerful but prohibitionist politicians, Norm Coleman and Hubert Humphrey III, lost the governor's race to a third candidate, Jesse Ventura, whom the media and the pundits refused to take seriously. Ventura campaigned in favor of medical cannabis and even gave an interview to High Times magazine before the election.   Although dodging the question of outright support for across-the-board legalization, Ventura clearly was the voice of skepticism towards the drug witch hunt.    That was 16 years ago, in an atmosphere of drug hysteria.  This year, with the example of Colorado leading the way to reform, it's possible that one or more of the third party candidates will capture a significant percentage of the votes.    Politicians and pretentious pundits refuse to look at actual election returns from other states where the voters consistently favor cannabis reform with MORE votes than the politicians themselves receive.   In Colorado, legalization beat both Obama and Romney at the polls!   In Michigan in 2008, medical cannabis carried every one of the state's 83 counties.   How did six libertarian candidates, three Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis, and one Legal Marijuana Now candidate secure enough petition signatures in two weeks to qualify for ballot spots in November?   By clearly advocating for legalization as they petitioned!    Cannabis reform is not a joke.  It addresses critical issues of social injustice, mass incarceration, economic opportunity, restoration of civil liberty, improvement in public safety, and restoring respect for worthier laws.   Let every voice be heard in this year's campaign!   Dump Dayton, junk Johnson, and Vote for Chris Wright, the Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis candidate.   Forget the politicians--this year, Minnesotans are looking for Mr. Wright!

Tim Stang
Tim Stang

so he's the only one with a shot to win election

Charles Barry
Charles Barry

Sorry, the crazy lady in congress scares me. I would be afraid we would have another like her as governor. Legalization of weed would be a great idea.

Noel Barrick
Noel Barrick

They all are.... well, Repub and Dem at least.

Dustin Skaalerud
Dustin Skaalerud

Ummm, THEY ARE ALL LIARS! lol it's not a dick measuring contest, just simplify your approach.

Mel UgoFurst
Mel UgoFurst

But I bet y'all trust the biggest lying politician ever, Obama

Charles Barry
Charles Barry

Never trust a Republican, usually a sheep in wolves clothing

TruDat
TruDat

You need to get rid of Dayton! He's a hypocrite when it comes to pot. Right now, if you are caught with under an ounce you pay a $200 fine. With Dayton's new medical marijuana bill, if you give any amount to someone else you pay a $3000 fine!

What a crook, ripping off sick people. 

claygooding
claygooding

During the upcoming elections it will become evident by how many people will be voting in this non-Presidential election just how important ending the continued destruction and costs of the US war on marijuana really is.

Early polls will give us a clue when reform candidates start leading against seated legislators that don't understand that American's has an accepted medical use for marijuana and are tired of spending billions of dollars making criminals rich.

We need to keep those billions of dollars here in our economy creating jobs and stimulating our economy more than any "trickle down" feed the rich has accomplished.

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

You seem to be mentally ill. Please go post on one of your T-bagging sites. 

GretavonOtto
GretavonOtto

It isn't the Republicans who refuse to enforce our laws by allowing millions of illegal, uneducated, unskilled people into our country and released thousands of illegal alien criminals onto our streets.

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

@TruDat Dayton has done a great job for the state of MN and will easily win re-election. Looking at the Republican't slate of idiots, it should be a landslide. 

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