MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesotans hoping to legalize recreational marijuana use got a bit of a boost Thursday.
According to a CBS News public opinion poll, support for ending the prohibition of the drug is at an all-time high.
Sixty-one percent of Americans now say pot should be legal, which is a five-point jump from just a year ago.
There was a distinctive smell wafting over the State Capitol steps Thursday as marijuana users lit up in full view — emboldened by growing support for the end to a longstanding prohibition.
“Opiates, people would stop with their opiate addiction, it would. Marijuana would help subside that,” said Emilio Medina, a recreational marijuana supporter.
Medina says marijuana got him off harder drugs. But can legalization get through the legislature?
Two bills aimed at ending the state’s cannabis prohibition and put the measure up to voters are currently stalled.
“The majority of people, whether they use it or not, just think we ought not to be locking people up for it,” said Randy Quast of NORML, or the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
Despite a failure to get hearings on the bill, supporters are buoyed by what they see as a marijuana momentum.
Recreational use is legal in eight states and the District of Columbia. Another 29, including Minnesota, allow medicinal use.
Minnetonka DFL State Representative Jon Applebaum is the bill’s chief author.
“I’m grateful to start the conversation here in Minnesota,” Applebaum said. “I think we should accept it, make sure it is safe and tax it, regulate it and it can benefit all of Minnesota.”
The bills won’t even reach committee hearings because of Republican opposition. Law enforcement and others still view marijuana as a gateway to harsher drugs.
“We need to let the people decide, that’s what this is about,” Applebaum said.
Until that happens, lighting up legally remains a Minnesota pipe dream.
Supporters plan to amend the bill in hopes of winning approval next session.
If that happens, it could be on the ballot for voters to decide in the 2020 election.