At long last, the movement to legalize cannabis in Minnesota has reached the DFL. The Libertarian Party of Minnesota would like to thank the countless marijuana legalization activists and advocates for their tireless work spanning decades.
While the LPMN would prefer a full repeal of all existing marijuana laws, we don’t want the perfect to be the enemy of the good. Broadly speaking, marijuana legalization is a good thing. Aside from the principle of allowing people to make their own choices about what they put in their bodies, marijuana offers real health benefits to many. Further, legalization allows for responsible distribution. By effectively depriving cartels and street gangs of a black market, the violent operations and uncertain product quality of these de facto distributors goes away. In its place rises a market free of violence and coercion, where accountability comes at the cash register and not at gunpoint.
While the bill offers some good, especially its very broad allowance for personal cultivation and possession, it is also full of regulations that will monopolize the big businesses at the expense of small businesses and consumers.
Cara Schulz, owner of “The Flower Pot Holistic Wellness” comments, “While I’m pleased to see the provisions for personal adult use in the bill, I was shocked at the exceptionally onerous and expensive restrictions on hemp farmers and small retailers. To sell CBD tinctures or sealed bottles of Delta gummies, it appears I would need to add an industrial ventilation system, a very expensive security system, double my store square footage, and have 2 to 3 employees on duty. I estimated the costs approaching $150,000 to $200,000 to comply the first year. This doesn’t include the regulatory hoops farmers, manufacturers, and wholesalers would have to jump through. All this would hit the consumer hard. Presently a bottle of hemp gummies costs $30. If the bill passes as presently written, that cost jumps to $75 a bottle.”
Regulations like this cause a hefty burden on small business owners who generally can’t afford to comply with them. This creates a market where consumers are forced to choose between large corporate brands and local small businesses, which only thrive when consumers can afford to choose them.
Other blue states have legalized marijuana with similar regulations, and this has frequently led to disaster. In California, the city of Los Angeles had to subsidize marijuana dispensaries due to the onerous costs of regulatory compliance. Legitimate businesses could not compete against black market operators, whose product was much more affordable. Minnesotans deserve better. Minnesota’s legislators must try something different.
The legalization of marijuana offers several benefits. As a society, we have largely come to terms with the fact that we cannot—and should not—use force to restrict individuals from making their own choices about their bodies. Bringing our legislation into alignment with our cultural values is beneficial enough to ensure we legalize it, but that we legalize it the right way. Legalization defangs drug cartels and street gangs by taking away their control of the marijuana market.
Perhaps most importantly, though, are the potential health benefits of marijuana. According to the National Institutes for Health, marijuana has been shown to diminish the chronic neuropathic pain caused by nerve injury and neurological disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis. Marijuana has been shown to reduce tremors in people with Parkinson’s Disease and tics in people with Tourette’s Syndrome. Marijuana has been used effectively to treat anxiety and PTSD. Cancer patients have found marijuana effective in helping reduce the side effects of their treatment, and HIV/AIDS patients have benefited from the impact of marijuana on their appetite. These health benefits and more should not be restricted only to those who can get a prescription. A substance that is safe and effective at treating countless ailments, natural, and easy to cultivate should be available to anyone who wants it.
While Minnesota Libertarians await the day that Minnesota crushes cartels and street gangs once and for all by allowing adults to use whichever substances they desire, we recognize that full liberation will require baby steps. We commend our friends in the DFL for having some courage to do the right thing now, and we call on them to make this bill better. The state of Minnesota can’t tolerate black markets any longer, not when the prospect of true liberty looms so close.