Three-quarters of Minnesotans support providing patients with the legal option to consume cannabis therapeutically, while half of Minnesotans also support legalizing the plant for social use, according to statewide survey data by Public Policy Polling and commissioned by the Minnesota affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (MN NORML}.
According to Randy Quast, founding board member of MN NORML, “These polling numbers show that Minnesotans views on cannabis are well ahead of those of their elected officials. More Minnesotans now support legalizing the plant than endorse maintaining the status quo, criminalization, and a super-majority of Minnesotans want patients to have far broader access to the plant for therapeutic purposes than is presently provided by state lawmakers.”
23 states have legalized medical cannabis since 1996. Minnesota’s medical cannabis law, passed during the last legislative session in 2014, is considered by legalization activists to be one of the most restrictive and punitive of all states because four law enforcement lobbies dominated the legislation which Governor Mark Dayton opposed without their approval. Two companies, Minnesota Medical Solutions and Leafline Labs won competitive manufacturing contracts from the Minnesota Department of Health’s Office of Medical Cannabis, and they can begin dispensing July 1, 2015 to the very small market of qualifying patients. Four states – Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska – have fully legalized cannabis for “recreational” or personal use and the District of Columbia (D.C.) has legalized the possession of cannabis for personal use and home cultivation.
Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, but the Obama administration has taken a hands-off approach to the establishment of a legalized, regulated and taxed personal use cannabis industry in Colorado and Washington. In December, Congress effectively defunded the Justice Department and its Drug Enforcement Agency from enforcing the federal prohibition of medical cannabis in the legal states. Furthermore, Congress signaled to Native Americans that they could begin legally growing and selling cannabis on their reservations if their respective tribal councils approve of it. The Red Lake Nation in northwestern Minnesota is considering the opportunity beginning with their tribal council’s approval this month of a feasibility study. MN NORML staff and board members will travel to the Red Lake Reservation to participate in a community forum in February to encourage the establishment of cannabusinesses there.
Article via a Press Release from Minnesota NORML