Policy: Marijuana Legalization
When I’m considering any policy, one of my first instincts is always to see if other states or countries have something similar. When examining the impacts of recreational marijuana legalization, there are now 11 states to look to for data and this is what we see:
1. An increase in tax revenue. A 2019 estimate was that Minnesota legalizing marijuana would generate roughly $300 million in new revenue for the state over the first five years. 
2. People using legal marijuana sources rather than illegal ones. This has led to a decrease in other gang activity as income streams for them are cut off. That in turn has led to a decrease in both property and violent crimes in states that have legalized.
3. No impact on juvenile usage rates. Colorado actually found a decrease in usage rates for teens following legalization and not just with marijuana, but with alcohol and heroin as well. Other states have seen less of a dramatic shift, but nowhere that has legalized has seen a large spike in juveniles using it like some feared.
4. There have been some studies that indicated traffic accidents rose in states with legalized marijuana, but further study revealed those were small increases that returned to normal within one year of recreational legalization.
Minnesotans have seen the benefits that come with increasing personal freedom in regards to recreational marijuana and that weight of evidence is part of why public opinion has shifted so quickly. In 2014 a Star Tribune/MPR poll showed that 30% of Minnesotans favored following Colorado’s lead. Now, just six years later, that number is 51% approve and 37% oppose.
We know this will also help our small businesses and our farmers. The counties in our district are all close to North Dakota and therefore will be able to draw business from across the border. The same group that estimated the revenue increase for the state estimated that there would be 20,000 jobs directly and indirectly boosted by legalization.
For our farmers who are looking at soy prices sinking to half of what they were in 2012, an additional crop would be a welcome relief for them and provide healthy soil options for crop rotation purposes.
One thing that does potentially worry me though is that a legalization bill would be written in such a way that our family farmers might get cut out of the deal. We need someone in office who is ready to fight corporate consolidation of power on all issues including this one.
Overall, this is a chance to increase freedom, increase revenue, decrease crime, and help our small businesses and farmers. For this and other reasons, Minnesota should legalize recreational marijuana.