A slim majority of Minnesota voters support legalizing marijuana for recreational use, according to a new Star Tribune/MPR News/KARE 11 Minnesota Poll.
The Minnesota Poll found 53% of voters think the state should legalize recreational marijuana, 36% oppose the change and 11% remain undecided.
The poll comes nearly a year after the Democratic-controlled Minnesota House passed a marijuana legalization bill, which Senate Republicans blocked from becoming law. In July, however, a new law legalizing edibles containing certain amounts of the psychoactive cannabis component THC took effect after Democratic lawmakers quietly pushed it through the Legislature.
Whether recreational marijuana will be legalized in Minnesota will depend on who wins control of the Legislature in November. DFL Gov. Tim Walz, who is also on the ballot, supports legalization; his Republican opponent, Scott Jensen, has said voters should decide on the issue via a constitutional ballot amendment.
The poll's findings are based on interviews with 800 Minnesota likely voters conducted from Sept. 12 to Sept. 14. Its margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Greg Bossany, of Elk River, said he opposes legal marijuana because he's worried it would lead to more impaired drivers.
"It's not something that's heightening your sense of awareness, it's dulling it," said Bossany, 65. "There's so many dingbats out on the road nowadays that driving is hazardous enough the way it is."
The idea was most popular in Hennepin and Ramsey counties, though a majority of voters in northern Minnesota also voiced support for marijuana legalization. Women favored the change more than men.
Nadine Garcia, a 35-year-old nurse from Crystal, Minn., said she has never used marijuana but favors legalizing it because she thinks criminalizing it does more harm than good.
"It's not a bad thing, especially for people with pain. For people with some mental health issues, it helps a lot," Garcia said. "Frankly, it's not that harmful of a recreational thing unless people get addicted."
Seventy percent of Democrats and 60% of independents supported legalizing marijuana. Among Republicans, 65% opposed it and 29% favored it.
About 60% of Minnesotans ages 18-49 said they want marijuana to be legal, and half of those between 50 and 64 years old supported it. Minnesotans 65 and older were more divided on the issue, with 47% in favor and 44% opposed.
Broadly, the Minnesota Poll results indicate growing support for legal recreational marijuana. In a Star Tribune/MPR News poll conducted in February 2020, 51% of registered voters said the state should legalize the drug.
Maren Schroeder, who directs a coalition of pro-cannabis groups called MN is Ready, said she believes more Minnesotans will warm to the issue "as it's normalized in our community through the sale of" the newly legal hemp-derived THC edibles.