Poll Shows Strong Support For Patients' Access To Medical Marijuana, Rising Support For Full Legalization

Three-quarters of Minnesotans support providing patients with the legal option to consume cannabis therapeutically, while half of Minnesotans also support legalizing the plant for social use, according to statewide survey data by Public Policy Polling and commissioned by the Minnesota affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (MN NORML).

Press Release - Contact: Marcus Harcus 612.749.4332 or [email protected] 

According to Randy Quast, founding board member of MN NORML, “These polling numbers show that Minnesotans views on cannabis are well ahead of those of their elected officials. More Minnesotans now support legalizing the plant than endorse maintaining the status quo, criminalization, and a super-majority of Minnesotans want patients to have far broader access to the plant for therapeutic purposes than is presently provided by state lawmakers.”

23 states have legalized medical cannabis since 1996. Minnesota's medical cannabis law, passed during the last legislative session in 2014, is considered by legalization activists to be one of the most restrictive and punitive of all states because four law enforcement lobbies dominated the legislation which Governor Mark Dayton opposed without their approval. Two companies, Minnesota Medical Solutions and Leafline Labs won competitive manufacturing contracts from the Minnesota Department of Health’s Office of Medical Cannabis, and they can begin dispensing July 1, 2015 to the very small market of qualifying patients. Four states - Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska - have fully legalized cannabis for "recreational" or personal use and the District of Columbia (D.C.) has legalized the possession of cannabis for personal use and home cultivation.

Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, but the Obama administration has taken a hands-off approach to the establishment of a legalized, regulated and taxed personal use cannabis industry in Colorado and Washington. In December, Congress effectively defunded the Justice Department and its Drug Enforcement Agency from enforcing the federal prohibition of medical cannabis in the legal states. Furthermore, Congress signaled to Native Americans that they could begin legally growing and selling cannabis on their reservations if their respective tribal councils approve of it. The Red Lake Nation in northwestern Minnesota is considering the opportunity beginning with their tribal council’s approval this month of a feasibility study. MN NORML staff and board members will travel to the Red Lake Reservation to participate in a community forum in February to encourage the establishment of cannabusinesses there. 

The following survey questions were asked of 811 Minnesotans from throughout the state, January 15-18, 2015, with a 3.4% +/- margin of error.

Question 1: Do you think marijuana should be legalized and regulated in MN like it is in CO and WA?

  • 49% in favor of full legalization

  • 44% in favor of prohibition

  • 7% not sure

Question 2: Do you think Minnesotans should be allowed to consume medical marijuana, or not?

  • 76% - YES

  • 19% - NO

  • 4% - NOT SURE

Question 3: Do you believe Minnesota would be safer and police more effective if they didn’t have to waste resources enforcing marijuana prohibition?

  • 46% - WOULD BE SAFER


  • 14% - NOT SURE

Question 3: Do you believe marijuana prohibition is working more effectively than alcohol prohibition?

  • 26% - YES

  • 54% - NO

  • 20% - NOT SURE

Question 4: Do you think politicians should decide who can legally use marijuana or let people decide for themselves?


  • 52% - The PEOPLE

  • 12% - NOT SURE

Question 5: Do you believe Minnesota’s economy would benefit from thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue that a fully legalized, regulated and taxed cannabis industry creates?

  • 51% - YES

  • 41% - NO

  • 8% - NOT SURE

Below is a statements from Marcus Harcus, Executive Director of MN NORML:

"Despite our progressivism in many ways, Minnesota is known as one of the most conservative liberal states, which places us behind on the advancements in the West and East Coasts with the national cannabis legalization movement. We’re only aware of five Minnesota state legislators who have indicated their support of full legalization. We've heard several legislators tell us that 'Minnesota is not ready for full legalization.' However, Minnesota NORML's first public opinion poll counters that narrative. Our findings indicate that an overwhelming majority support medical access, half of the state supports full legalization and a decreasing minority of Minnesotans support the status quo of cannabis prohibition. Our polling numbers in Minnesota are very similar to national polling results, which is encouraging because we’ve believed that a majority of Minnesotans were ahead of their elected officials when it comes to knowing and understanding that cannabis is safe, while prohibition is dangerous. Full legalization in Minnesota is not inevitable given the powerful special interest groups opposed to it, and it may not be possible any time soon without a robust and organized social movement to demand it resoundingly.

The three goals of our public opinion poll were to (A) find out where Minnesotans stand on the questions of cannabis prohibition and legalization, (B) determine which arguments for full legalization might resonate most with the general public, and (C) identify areas of widespread ignorance about prohibition and legalization which require the most attention in terms of the need for public education. MN NORML plans to influence public opinion to increase support for full legalization in Minnesota. We will organize our base of supporters, but we will be targeting the Marijuana Middle with our public education efforts. The Marijuana Middle represents the 27% of Minnesotans who support medical marijuana, but oppose full legalization. If we can enlighten half of them to support full legalization with the facts that cannabis is not dangerous, but prohibition is, then there will be no stopping us from influencing the political will in the next few years to enable its passage. With our plans to organize a statewide, grassroots campaign, we believe we will influence public opinion to rise above 60% in Minnesota within the next two years and achieve our mission by 2020 or sooner.

There’s a clear need to provide Minnesota’s Marijuana Middle with historical lessons about how alcohol prohibition failed miserably and how cannabis prohibition was established based on pseudo-scientific lies and racist propaganda of Harry Ansinger and the conniving commercial interests of Lamont Dupont who was opposed to industrial hemp. Hemp is the non-psychoactive cousin of the psychoactive cannabis sativa and indica, the dried flowers of which give consumers like me a feeling of mild euphoria. Minnesotans should know that cannabis prohibition has been maintained for 78 years by the corrupting forces of for-profit policing, the financial fears of other powerful special interest lobby groups who prioritize jobs and profits and/or federal grants over the lives of the more than 10,000,000 Americans punished by cannabis prohibition. They must learn that this failed war is based on the economically motivated but otherwise senseless political demonization of a nontoxic, natural plant that human beings have consumed for thousands of years without a single death. They must learn that cannabis has countless medicinal and social benefits, that cannabis is a much safer choice than alcohol, tobacco and most prescription drugs and that cannabis actually helps many people overcome addictions to them all. Countless so-called “tough (but not smart) on crime” politicians are also complicit. Ultimately, the onus for ending the destructive and costly war against cannabis is on our lawmakers, not the law enforcers.

We need the Marijuana Middle to understand how costly and wasteful cannabis prohibition is, that none of the thousands of annual marijuana arrests in Minnesota actually decreases demand or supply. We need them to understand that criminalizing cannabis consumers for possession does not protect or serve public safety when the so-called crime is nonviolent and victimless. Marijuana arrests distract police from focusing their time and energy on preventing and solving property crimes and violent crimes, i.e. real crime. The collateral consequences of marijuana arrests result in the disenfranchisement that we all pay for indirectly. The collateral consequences of cannabis arrests can cost individuals tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost employment, housing and higher education finance opportunities. The punishment is not worth the cost of the unjust “crime” of marijuana prohibition laws. Minnesotans must know that cannabis prohibition is structurally racist due to the fact that 8 African Americans are arrested for every 1 European American in Minnesota, despite relatively equal usage rates – the national rate of discriminatory marijuana arrests is 4:1. The Marijuana Middle must learn that they are the key to helping the Marijuana Majority finally end cannabis prohibition in Minnesota.

"MN NORML is staunchly opposed to the senseless status quo of criminalizing cannabis consumers and we fully support bringing the underground cannabusiness economy aboveground to establish a legalized, regulated and taxed cannabis industry similar to, but better than Colorado’s and the other states ahead of us. It simply makes no sense that Minnesota, supposedly a "decriminalized" state, spent $140,000,000 in 2013 to arrest and disenfranchise nearly 12,000 Minnesotans for cannabis---90% for possession. More than 1,000,000 living Minnesotans have tried it at least once and hundreds of thousands of mostly responsible Minnesotans regularly smoke the dried flowers of this natural plant, which kills no one and safely makes most people feel happy and peaceful without negative side effects. The tragic reality is that these hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans live in fear of being arrested, losing jobs, careers, housing and educational opportunities and freedom. Imagine, on one hand how the state of Minnesota could save hundreds of millions of wasted taxpayer dollars by ending prohibition. On the other hand, thousands of jobs could be created for Minnesotans with the benefit of generating tens of millions of dollars in annual tax revenue that could be invested in public education, public health, public safety, public infrastructure, etc. Governor Dayton and the Legislature could help pay for potholes, roads, bridges and transit with pot taxes!"


MN NORML is a nonprofit 501c(4) member-based advocacy organization founded in 2011 with a mission to repeal Minnesota’s marijuana prohibition laws so that responsible adult use is no longer subject to penalty. MN NORML is advocating for full legalization of cannabis with a regulated, reasonably taxed cannabis industry and consumer rights for personal home cultivation. MN NORML currently has 6,500 members throughout the state of Minnesota and plans to grow its membership through community organizing to exceed 10,000 members by the end of 2015 and 20,000 members by the end of 2016.


Contact: Marcus Harcus 612.749.4332 or [email protected]