0215 poll results

A majority of area readers are opposed to legalizing recreational marijuana, according to a Free Press online question.

Out of 460 total respondents, 263 voters — more than 57 percent — believe Minnesota should not legalize recreational cannabis. Another 197 support the proposal.

Minnesota is the latest state to debate legalizing marijuana. Several members of the DFL-controlled House have put forth bills  to legalize marijuana in some way. That could include making the issue a constitutional amendment and have Minnesotans vote on it or legalizing and regulating how marijuana is used, grown and sold.

Political experts don't expect legalization efforts to get very far this session, as critics have support from the GOP-controlled Senate. Despite that, advocates on both sides of the aisle have publicly clashed several times, including a contentious press conference last month.

Yet support for recreational marijuana is growing. Ten states thus far have legalized marijuana, and Gov. Tim Walz has said he is in favor of legalization.

The Free Press online question, sent out Thursday, asked, "Should Minnesota legalize recreational marijuana?"

There were two options to answer, "yes" and "no."

Commenters were largely split on the issue. Those opposed to legalization were concerned people who smoked would cause more traffic accidents, while others were concerned about marijuana's effects on a person's brain.

"While cannabis has proven pharmaceutical uses, traits of cannabis are also proven to causes irreparable harm to brain cells specifically in the teen years as well as similar to cigarettes, lung damage and you want to turn it into a recreational drug?" Bradford Hansen wrote. "We cannot even deal with prescription drugs and alcohol's effect on society."

Philip Wold wrote, "Mind-altering drugs affect a user's judgment. Legalizing such drugs accelerates their use, which, in turn, enhances the probability that nonusers will encounter users and their resultant interactions are much more likely to be dire."

Proponents say legalizing marijuana could lead to more economic growth and agricultural opportunities throughout the state, as well as better access to a drug many believe helps with anxiety and other health issues.

"Nothing that law enforcement and the government has done to stop the sale and usage of marijuana has worked, costing taxpayers billions of dollars," Owen Dundas wrote. "The incarceration of thousands of citizens for marijuana crimes has overloaded our jails and prisons and caused backlogs in our court system ... it just makes sense to legalize it and profit from the taxes and licensing fees that could be used in so many ways to help our state."

John Wentz wrote, "Recreational marijuana should be legalized in Minnesota. Having the state get the tax revenue and being able to use the new found source of money would help the state to finance many much needed programs, etc. The state getting the money instead of cartels is far better."

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