Next Minnesota Governor Supports Legalizing Marijuana, Community Reacts

Gov. Elect Tim Walz says the legislation could reduce crime and help the state's economy

MOORHEAD, Minn. — North Dakota voters may have just turned down Measure 3, but in Minnesota marijuana might just be legalized in the next few years.

Reducing crime, creating jobs and boosting the state’s economy are just a few reasons Minnesota’s next governor says he wants to legalize marijuana in the state. And Walz is already gaining followers.

“If it was the right piece of legislation, it’s something that I would support and I say that because it’s just the direction people are going,” said DFL State House Majority-Elect Ben Lien.

For Lien, the right piece of legislation looks like a bill that doesn’t allow anyone under 21 to get ahold of recreational marijuana. Some college students even agree with him.

“I would just hope if it was legalized there would be restrictions on it like age limits and places that people are allowed to do it,” said Madison Olson.

Some of them adding passing recreational marijuana in the state should be a no brainer.

“I would hope so. Medical marijuana helps people. Why can’t it help people who don’t need it,” said Richard, an MSUM student.

Lien says before Minnesota sees the day where weed is legal, legislators need to have law enforcement in on the conversation the entire time.

“If this were to happen and we were to have not just decriminalized cannabis, but I think we also would need to have a regulated market place where people could buy cannabis so the state could collect some tax revenue and just so that we’re regulating the commerce aspect of this, that anything within that regulated network is not leaving the state,” Lien said.

Especially because Lien says legalizing marijuana should be about the people of the state, not tourism.

“People from other parts of the Midwest may come to Minnesota. That wouldn’t be one of my leading concerns, that wouldn’t be one of my reasons we should do this. I think it should be done for people in Minnesota and done right,” Lien said.

Before that happens, Lien says the legislature needs to focus on top priorities including passing a budget for the next two years, helping out farmers and lowering health care costs.

But as the conversation continues, some are sure they’ll eventually see a stark contrast from across the river.

“If you were to compare Minnesota to North Dakota, I’d say Minnesota would probably be leaning towards passing it rather than rejecting it,” said Deanna Piatz.

Medical marijuana became legal in Minnesota in 2014.

In July, more than 10,000 patients across the state received cannabis treatments, including in Moorhead.
That’s the most they’ve had since patient centers began distributing cannabis in 2015.

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