House set to vote on H R 3617 Marijuana legislation as MN01 awaits Anti-Cannabis’ Jim Hagedorn’s replacement 

Cannabis is no longer the partisan issue it once was” according to Ohio’s Fourteenth District Republican Dave Joyce, the co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus … and that sentiment will be tested this week when the House considers H.R. 3617, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act. The bipartisan proposal would decriminalize marijuana, expunge the federal arrests and convictions of nonviolent marijuana offenders, prohibit the denial of federal public benefits, allow veterans, for the first time, to obtain medical cannabis recommendations from their VA doctors; and provide grant opportunities for communities that have suffered disproportionate rates of marijuana-related enforcement actions.  The bill was approved by the House Judiciary Committee 26-15, with 24 Democrats joined by two Republicans voting yes and 15 Republicans voting no.

This legislation is consistent with the bill that the House passed last session but the Republican-controlled Senate failed to act on. That bill was passed largely on party lines with six Democrats voting NO and five Republicans voting YES. Jim Hagedorn was one of the NO votes.

Jim Hagedorn votes against cannabis bills may be one of the reasons why the Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party of Minnesota candidate received 21,448 votes in the 2020 election. Those single-issue voters will have two candidates competing in the August 9th Special Election — Richard Reisdorf of the Legal Marijuana Now Party and Aaron McClellan of the Grassroots – Legalize Cannabis Party. The likelihood of either of those candidates winning the seat is improbable … yet there presence on the ballot may actually divert votes away from candidates who may support the legalization efforts. [Comment : Considering the strong opposition by a majority of House Republicans, electing someone other than a supportive Democrat will mean that the issue will not be addressed in future sessions … especially if the Republicans become the majority after the midterms.]

Support for the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act. is a question that should be asked of all the candidates. Some have already made statements (when Richard Painter was a DFL candidate for US Senate, he tweeted his support for marijuana legalization), while many other candidates’ views are unknown.

Two Minnesota First District Special Election candidates voted when the Minnesota legislature took up HF600 on May 13, 2021 which legalized recreational use of marijuana in Minnesota, was passed 72-61. MNGOP First District candidate Nels Pierson voted NO while Jeremy Munson voted YES.

That said, how they would vote on the current federal legislation may be different (although if Nels Pierson voted against it at the state level, it seems doubtful that he would vote for it at the federal level.) Jeremy Munson has an interesting choice … does he hold to his Minnesota philosophy after being endorsed by Jim Jordan.

Jim Jordan is the Ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee who has lead the opposition to the MORE Act. Jordan’s reasons are : It would open the floodgates of marijuana cultivation, distribution and sales throughout the United States delivering $40 Billion dollars to the domestic and transnational criminal organizations in the underground market. Further it would require the Small Business Administration to provide loans to the cannabis industry (currently although some States have legal businesses producing and selling cannabis, those businesses are ineligible for SBA loans even as they pay taxes on their businesses.) [Comment : Has Representative Jordan called for prohibition of SBA loans for craft breweries or restricting Members of Congress from receiving SBA loans ? FYI at least 28 members of Congress {or their spouses} benefited from some $27 million in small business loans in 2020 including Devin Nunes (R-CA) whose two wineries and two farms received a total $2.95 million.]

It should also be noted that the federal legislation does created an excise tax and other taxes … and Republicans have expressed opposition to any legislation that includes taxes. Also, the expungement process would restore voting rights … and expanding voting rights is another issue that Republicans do not seem to want to do.

Other MNGOP candidates to watch include Jennifer Carnahan, Jim Hagedorn’s widow, who has stated that she is “committed to continuing my husband’s legacy” … so does that mean Ms. Carnahan would oppose the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act ?

Brad Finstad is the former Executive Director of the Center for Rural Policy Research and appointed by President Trump as USDA State Director in Minnesota for Rural Development. Finstad surely knows how the 2014 Farm bill impacted hemp production in Minnesota. In 2019, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture licensed 343 growers and 206 processers/handlers. Growers planted 8,000 acres of industrial hemp, 78 percent of which was intended for processing into hemp-derived CBD oil. Many of those operations are in Minnesota’s First District. There is a proposal to expand a CBD oil processing facility in Waseca that looks to add 100 employees while impacting 170 jobs in the county.

The future of cannabis (and the jobs created) is a discussion for every candidate to replace Jim Hagedorn … so ask ’em.