Forbes predicts Minnesota will be the next to legalize weed

Forbes thinks Governor-Elect Tim Walz is going to lead us into a new age of legal weed. Can it be?

Forbes thinks Governor-Elect Tim Walz is going to lead us into a new age of legal weed. Can it be? Anthony Souffle, Star Tribune

Ten states have legalized recreational marijuana for adults. Forbes thinks Minnesota will be among the next.

The business magazine is predicting that Minnesota’s governor-elect, Democrat Tim Walz, is going to be our ace in the hole.

Walz has pledged to “replace the current failed policy with one that creates tax revenue, grows jobs, builds opportunities for Minnesotans, protects Minnesota kids, and trusts adults to make personal decisions based on their personal freedoms,” Forbes writes. He also happened to author the first stand-alone cannabis bill to pass a congressional committee in the U.S. House.

Our peers on this most likely list include Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Rhode Island. You can argue that conditions are certainly looking more cannabis-y than ever, but there are several reasons why it would be unfair to paint legal weed in Minnesota as a sure thing.

Take that new Democratic House majority that’s supposed to give Walz the “boost” he needs. It’s still rife with legislators who are, to put it mildly, reserved about the matter.

Brooklyn Park Democrat Melissa Hortman, the incoming speaker of the House, told the Pioneer Press it was “too early to say what the path for this issue will look like.”

Meanwhile, the Senate is still under Republican control, thanks to a one-seat majority. And Majority Leader Paul Gazelka of Nisswa is even more tepid.

“My gut is that it’s probably not good for the state,” he told the Pioneer Press, though he’d like to “bring in the people from Colorado” to make sure. (Colorado, incidentally, will likely tell him this year’s $200 million in weed tax revenue isn’t treating it too badly.)

Then comes Minnesota’s biggest problem -- the reason why we don’t have legal weed already.

Most of the states that have managed to do so have done it by referendum, bypassing skittish politicians to let the people vote directly. That’s what allowed Michigan to become the first state in the Midwest, and it’s not something we do around here. The closest we come is letting citizens vote on amendments to our state constitution – and even those need to be supported by a majority of legislators first.

If we want to legalize, we’re going to need more than a weed-friendly governor. Especially when there are more pressing matters at hand. Walz told Kare 11 that “issues like health care, education, and transportation” are going to be his “main legislative focuses” this session.

But don’t lose hope, Minnesota. Our time will come.