The Minnesota DFL has filed a petition with the state Supreme Court seeking to strip the Legal Marijuana Now Party of its major party status after a new state law raised the bar for major parties in the state.
The petition, filed by the state party on Tuesday, alleges the Legal Marijuana Now Party failed to hold the required number of conventions in 2022 to be a major party and didn't meet leadership requirements across the state. The court can issue a declaration that the party did not meet the requirements outlined in state law.
Under a law passed by the DFL Legislature this spring, parties must submit a list of dates and locations of every convention held in 2022 in all congressional districts and in at least 45 county or legislative districts to maintain their major party status. Law also requires them to have a local chair and party officers as needed in each of Minnesota's eight congressional districts and in least 45 county or legislative districts. The DFL says the Legal Marijuana Now Party didn't meet either requirement.
"Every major party is expected to demonstrate that they are a serious organization by building their party and engaging voters in dozens of districts across Minnesota," DFL Party Chair Ken Martin said in a statement. "The Minnesota DFL and the Minnesota GOP are the only two political parties that meet that threshold."
"We did our due diligence and worked closely with the [Minnesota] secretary of state's office to comply with the rule changes recently passed to use specifically to target our party our success and silence the voices of the thousands of Americans who have voted for us," said Dennis Schuller, Chairman Legal Marijuana Now Party in a statement. "I feel sad that they the un-democratic party has chosen this path and I am confident about the information we have provided the state."
The Minnesota Secretary of State's Office rejected its major party status certification twice for failing to meet these requirements, according to the DFL. The certification was approved on the third attempt after the Legal Marijuana Now Party claimed to have held 76 conventions all on the same day within the same hour.
"Its assertion in its certification to the Secretary of State that it conducted 75 congressional district and local conventions — along with its state convention — on a single day in-person and via Zoom is implausible," read the petition.
Previously, a party could achieve major party status by maintaining a party organization and having at least one statewide candidate on the general election ballot who received at least 5% of the vote. They could also meet that requirement by recruiting a minimum number of candidates for the Legislature, Congress and statewide offices. Democrats raised the threshold to 8% of the vote in elections starting this fall.
The Legal Marijuana Now Party, which has been a major party since 2018, met the 5% threshold in the 2022 election. The Grassroots Legalize Cannabis Party recently lost its major party status.
In its petition to the court, the DFL also criticized the Legal Marijuana Now Party for putting the name of Colorado resident Krystal Gabel on its presidential nominating ballot without her consent.
Democrats have been critical of the state's two marijuana parties in past elections, alleging that Republicans recruited candidates to run under their party banner. In several of those close races, Democrats said the marijuana party pulled enough votes from their candidates to hand Republicans victory.
Martin said Democrats were the ones who successfully pushed to legalize cannabis for adults in the last legislative session.
"Fortunately, there is a major political party for legalization supporters," he said. "The party that actually legalized cannabis, the Minnesota DFL."