Poll: Majority backs legal marijuana in Minnesota

A marijuana jar for sale.
A worker holds up a jar with marijuana offered for sale at a medical marijuana dispensary in Billings, Mont. A majority of Minnesota voters polled in an MPR News/Star Tribune/KARE 11 survey conducted last week said the state should legalize marijuana for recreational use.
Matthew Brown | AP file 2020

A majority of Minnesota voters polled in an MPR News/Star Tribune/KARE 11 survey conducted last week say the state should legalize marijuana for recreational use.

Roughly 53 percent of the 800 registered voters reached by Mason Dixon Polling between Sept. 12 and 14 said they supported legal marijuana, while 36 percent said they opposed it and about 11 percent remained unsure. The poll carries a plus-or-minus 3.5 percent margin of error.

Support for legalizing cannabis cuts across age groups, voters’ geographic location, level of education, race and gender, with majorities backing the plan across those categories. 

The proposal faces greater opposition among Republicans, with just under 65 percent of those who identified as Republicans opposing the proposal to make cannabis available for recreational use, compared to 29 percent of GOP voters who support it.

Monica Nelson of Prior Lake answered pollsters’ questions. She fears legalizing recreational  marijuana would have unintended consequences.

"I would definitely not vote for marijuana,” Nelson said. “I think it's a gateway drug."

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Majorities of Democrats and independent voters polled support the idea.

Minnesota lawmakers earlier this year approved a rewrite of the state’s marijuana laws that allowed for the legal purchase and consumption of small amounts of cannabis products made into foods or drinks. 

The under-the-radar effort to pass the plan came with little fanfare, but it spurred a strong reaction from the public when the products hit shelves in July. Local jurisdictions have since set temporary prohibitions on sales of the gummies or other edibles within their borders.

Democrats at the Capitol have pushed for a broader legal marijuana framework in the state but have been unable to win over Republicans, who hold a majority in the Minnesota Senate.

Another issue that has been repeatedly debated at the Capitol — legalizing sports betting — also picked up support among those polled.

Just under 48 percent of Minnesotans surveyed said they supported legalizing gambling on sports while 33 percent said they opposed it and roughly 19 percent were unsure.

Nikhil Joglekar was among the nearly 48 percent of poll respondents who said sports betting should be allowed in Minnesota.

"I know that there are lots of things about it being kind of like a regressive tax but I'm more for the legalization of different activities than I am the other way,” Joglekar said.

A 2018 Supreme Court decision cleared the way for states to legalize betting on sporting events. More than 30 states have legalized it online, and others are preparing to do so.

A bipartisan effort to legalize sports betting in Minnesota came up short this year after lawmakers failed to agree on which groups should be authorized to operate the online gambling.

For additional findings from the September MPR News/Star Tribune/KARE 11 Minnesota Poll, including notes about methodology and sample characteristics, visit the APM Research Lab methodology page here.