ST PAUL, Minn. — ST. PAUL, Minn. - Emotions ran high as the debate kicked off at the state Capitol on whether Minnesota should legalize recreational marijuana.
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A news conference called by opponents of legalization Wednesday was marked by heckling from marijuana supporters before ending in a shouting match.
Judson "Kim" Bemis of Smart Approaches to Marijuana Minnesota said the current science does not support the commercialization and normalization of recreational marijuana. He said use by teens and young adults skyrockets when marijuana is legalized.
After Dakota County authorities also spoke against legalization, activist John Thompson heatedly related how his friend, Philando Castile , was shot and killed by a police officer who smelled burnt marijuana after stopping Castile's car in Falcon Heights in 2016. He said marijuana is a tool that police use to attack black men.
Members of the Minnesota Cannabis Coalition got word of the planned news conference by legalization opponents and arranged to stage a protest of sorts, promising to hold their own media event to "debunk the misinformation."
They say prohibiting recreational marijuana is "senseless, expensive, corrupt," and "structurally racist."
Meanwhile, SAMMn members say initiatives to legalize recreational marijuana in other states have led to increased access and drug use among youth, higher risks of impaired driving, and an increase in emergency departments.
Tuesday, Minnesotans for Responsible Marijuana Regulation (MRMR) announced that it has launched the MRMR Steering Committee, a "statewide, multi-partisan coalition and campaign to support the legalization and regulation of marijuana for safe adult recreational use in Minnesota."
The MRMR Steering Committee released a list of members, which includes Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.
MRMR Steering Committee List
Dario Anselmo, Former MN State Representative (R-Edina)
Tomme Beevas, Owner of Pimento
Sam Clark, Former St. Paul City Attorney
Ben Feist, Legislative Director of ACLU Minnesota
Jacob Frey, Mayor of Minneapolis
Beth Gendler, Executive Director of National Council of Jewish Women MN
Elliot Ginsburg, Attorney at Garner & Ginsburg
Cydi Lesher, Host Committee Chair, 2009 RNC & Volunteer Committee Chair, 2018 Super Bowl
Carin Mrotz, Executive Director of Jewish Community Action
Leslie Redmond, Executive Director of NAACP Minneapolis
Zachary Robins, Attorney at Messerli Kramer
Sam Strong, Director of Planning and Economic Development for the Red Lake Nation
Jason Tarasek, Minnesota Political Director for the Marijuana Policy Project
Sarah Walker, Founder of MN Second Chance Coalition
Brendan Peterson, Former MN State Senator (R-Andover)
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