By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — People who support full legalization of marijuana in Minnesota hope a Democrat-controlled House brings them one step closer to their goal.

Voters supported their efforts by giving two political parties for cannabis legalization 5 percent of the vote — which gives them major political party status.

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Governor-Elect Tim Walz sounded the alarm during the campaign, and supporters of full marijuana legalization got busy.

“Regulate, tax Minnesota grown, and then I would go back and expunge those records of the folks we are overcrowding our prisons with for marijuana infractions,” Walz said.

Mike Ford, of the Legal Marijuana Now Party, ran in the midterms for state auditor, losing to Democrat Julie Blaha.

“I was able to get 5.2 percent of the vote with 133,000 votes, and that gave us official major party status in the state of Minnesota,” Ford said.

Seven candidates gathered enough votes to have their political parties that support pot legalization be considered major political parties in Minnesota.

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“I think it’s time for people to stand up. I think it’s time for the legislator to let the people decide on whether marijuana should be legal or not,” Ford said.

Pot is now legal in 10 states. Minnesota’s path to legalization will be much different than others.

“The other states that are ahead of us are states where people can vote directly to change the law, which is called the initiative process,” said volunteer Oliver Steinberg. “Minnesota’s constitution doesn’t give us the right to make laws directly from the people.”

The only way voters get to decide is if lawmakers make a move first.

“That’s if the legislature passed an act proposing a constitutional amendment, so that’s a referendum and not an initiative, and that’s something that would be veto-proof,” said Marcus Harcus, executive director of the Minnesota Campaign for Full Legalization. “But since we now have a governor who supports legalization, we don’t need to go that route as long as we can get a majority in the house and the senate to support it.”

“Right now, I think we have a little impasse with the Republicans,” said Chris Wright of the Grassroots Legalize Cannabis Party. “We’re hoping our Republican friends will come around on the issue and see that this is a way to raise revenue.”

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Both parties plan to work together to develop a model bill. Their goal is to create a reasonably-taxed system, which is equitably regulated and repairs victims of prohibition.

Reg Chapman