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'Highway Deaths As Collateral Damage' Of Legal Cannabis: MN Law Enforcement Raises Concerns

byNina Zdinjak, Benzinga Staff Writer

April 17, 2023 10:35 AM | 2 min read


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Minnesota is getting closer to cannabis legalization, with both Senate and House marijuana-focused bills passing many committees recently. However, a group of opponents are attempting to block the campaign.



What Happened: The Anti-Narcotic & Anti-Addictive-Drug Coalition, Smart Approaches to Marijuana Minnesota, and members of law enforcement



gathered at the state capitol Thursday to argue against cannabis legalization in the North Star State.



“Am I okay with it? No. I’ll never be okay with legalizing marijuana,” Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson said, citing safety concerns.



“It’s really saddening to me that we’re willing to have as collateral damage the deaths on our highway just because people want to use marijuana recreationally,” he said.



A study from the American Public Health Association from 2000 to 2018, reveals the percentage of fatal crashes involving marijuana grew from 9% to 21.5%.



However, the lawmakers behind the bills claim they are aware of these concerns and have taken them into account.




The House Bill, sponsored by Rep. Zack Stephenson (D) already passed 14 committees and is now heading to the Ways and Means Committee. In January, Stephenson said “Members, Minnesotans are ready. Cannabis should not be illegal in Minnesota,” said Rep. Zach Stephenson (DFL) Coon Rapids.



“State and local governments are spending millions enforcing laws that aren’t helping anyone,” Stephenson added. “Money that could be put to far better purposes. There is a better way. ”



Additionally, a Senate committee recently approved a Senate companion bill, sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Port (D).

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