The DFL just came really close to putting legal pot on its list of priorities

marijuanaplant.jpg
Coleen Danger
At the Minnesota DFL convention in Duluth last month, 1,076 delegates cast ballots related to the party's 2014-15 action agenda. Resolutions ranged from taxes to veterans to recreational cannabis.

The last one needed 619 votes to pass, but ended up with 603, according to tally takers.

See also:
Gov. Mark Dayton's medical cannabis task force includes staunch opponents and supporters


In other words, the activists who guide policy for the DFL -- the party that currently controls the House, the Senate, and the governor's office -- were 16 votes shy of making recreational cannabis a legislative priority for the next two years. That comes out to a mere 1.5 percent.

Had it passed, the DFL would have joined the Independence Party in believing recreational cannabis is an acceptable form of leisure, profitable to the state, and badly needed to stop wrongs committed in our criminal justice system. Some have gone so far as to declare its use a civil right.

Of course, it'll take more than a piece of paper to convince most legislators, especially those beholden to the state's powerful law enforcement lobbyists. Using cannabis for pleasure (or religious ceremony) is still a taboo position to hold in politics, and some top-ranking DFLers last session made the case for medical by blasting recreational.

To be fair, these statements came in response to opponents like Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandria), who has repeatedly conflated the two issues. Although the Ron Paul-type Republicans helped push a medical bill to the governor's desk, the MN GOP 2014 party platform is clear: "we are opposed to legalizing recreational marijuana."

The only DFL lawmaker so far to come out in support of legalizing cannabis -- Rep. Rena Moran (St. Paul) -- has no plans to author a bill next year. Still, she surprised more than a few observers when she took the stage at a rally in April, saying, "Let's create a system where we can tax and regulate the sale, so we can invest more wisely in all of us."

Others will have a chance to rise soon enough. Randy Quast, the executive director of MN NORML, says he intends to survey candidates to make sure his members vote smart. Moran coming forward is great, he adds, but "she can't be the only one standing out there."

Outside Minnesota, it's becoming clear that the sky hasn't fallen in states where cannabis is legal. Last month, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who opposed the ballot referendum legalizing the plant, sounded optimistic when he told Reuters:
It seems like the people that were smoking before are mainly the people that are smoking now. If that's the case, what that means is that we're not going to have more drugged driving, or driving while high... But we are going to have a system where we're actually regulating and taxing something, and keeping that money in the state of Colorado...and we're not supporting a corrupt system of gangsters.
Another bright spot to come out of the DFL convention: Delegates approved a resolution calling for legalized agricultural hemp. It was once a cash crop for southern Minnesota farmers and, during World War II, became a crucial component of cordage, parachutes, and other military necessities.

Don't believe us? Check out "Hemp for Victory," which was produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It's on YouTube.

-- Send story tips to the author or follow him on Twitter @marxjesse


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22 comments
Jimmy
Jimmy

Never ever going to happen in neo-liberal, backwards, socially conservative regressive Minnesota. Move to CO or WA, MN is stuck 10-20 years behind the times, as usual. Faux liberal state. Just welfare and taxes and no individual liberty or freedom. Vote with your dollars and feet and leave.

Ryan Duffney
Ryan Duffney

Hmm, oh well by 2027 it will be legal here in Minnesota.. Until then we will play a game of hide and seek(good guy/bad guy) LOL

Alirox
Alirox

The Libertarian, Grassroots, and Green parties of Minnesota have been years ahead of the status quo mooks in this state.

Grok Grokkster
Grok Grokkster

Fuck the Democrats and their opportunistic posturing. NEVER VOTE BOURGEOIS. EVER. Don't fall for this shit. Geeze.

Andy Larson
Andy Larson

The action agenda is merely a suggestion from the grassroots. The elected leaders should be but are not obligated to follow it. It is common for them to ignore it, for example, single payer health care. It doesn't mean much. I wouldn't have gotten my hopes up even if they did have the votes at convention. The leadership does what it wants. It is an illusion of grassroots democracy but it is still a top down party.

Jill Marckel
Jill Marckel

Somebody needs to work on those 16 votes, gone no...

Mackenzie Denny
Mackenzie Denny

Oh just do it already, sheesh, stop wasting your time enforcing the law against it. I know dozens of people who use it and have been for years. The war against pot is over, you lost, legalize it and move on.

Dog Gone
Dog Gone topcommenter

Regulate it and tax hell out of it.


We could use some of that Colorado money here.

Heck, let's legalize the stuff nationally -- and use it to fund our VA, to FINALLY give our veterans better care, including if they need it, medical marijuana.

Couldn't hurt out tourism industry any either, or the hospitality industry --- maybe help us raise the minimum wage for restaurant workers, serving the munchie-driven crowds.

Eric Anderson
Eric Anderson

I'd be happy if I could just smoke marijuana for medicinal purposes, that's still not legal in Minnesota..

Dustin Skaalerud
Dustin Skaalerud

Yea, in 20 more years....our state is behind in terms of anything fun. No fireworks(fun fireworks at least), no Sunday alcohol sales...3.2% Alcohol?! What a joke...

Patrick McCormick
Patrick McCormick

I'm not a Democrat but I would have gotten behind them had the done that.

Josh Jones
Josh Jones

You should know by now MN blames on the problems in the world on tobacco and alcohol. (Still no beer on Sundays)

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

Call you representatives and put pressure on.  If politicians know the people want this it will happen.  Demand legalization be on the 2016 ballot.   If the politicians don't want to make a hard vote, let the people decide.

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

@digitalprotocol  Anyone that cares about this issue should.  That's how things change.  Old people call their representatives all the time.  

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