Actor, wrestler and former MN Gov. Jesse Ventura backs cannabis legalization bill – Twin Cities

Actor, wrestler and former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura made an unexpected appearance at the state Capitol Thursday to testify in a Senate committee in favor of legislation to legalize cannabis for adult recreational use.

“I’m breaking new ground here so I hope you will all bare with me and enjoy it,” Ventura said, noting he had never testified to a Minnesota legislative committee despite serving as governor from 1999 to 2003 and mayor of Brooklyn Park from 1991 to 1995.

“I’m here because I started this,” Venture said. “As governor, I believed in hemp and cannabis back then. I believe in it even more now. I want to be here when this passes into law.”

Ventura choked up describing his wife Terry’s struggles with seizures that prescription drugs could not control.

“Our life was over… In desperation, we broke the law. We drove to Colorado,” the former Green Party governor said. “Marijuana, cannabis, stopped the seizures… I had to break the law.”

Ventura said they now purchase medical marijuana in Minnesota, but it is much more expensive than buying it in places like Colorado where it is legal for recreational use.

“The way you’re set up today, you got a monopoly in Minnesota,” he said. “If you open up the doors, capitalism will take hold, prices will go down. I don’t want another family to have to go through what my family went through.”

The former Navy SEAL who served in Vietnam urged lawmakers to make the legal age 18. The legislation currently sets the legal age to purchase recreational cannabis at 21.

“If you’re old enough to kill and be killed for your country, if you’re old enough to do that. You ought to be old enough to smoke a joint,” Ventura said.

Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party members say this is the year recreational cannabis will be legalized. Bills are advancing through committees in the House and Senate.

Ventura testified to the Senate Environment, Climate and Legacy committee on Thursday, the sixth committee to hear the bill in the Senate. Ventura endorsed Gov. Tim Walz last year for re-election, in part, because he promised to legalize cannabis.

A companion bill has been heard in several House committees and the full chamber passed similar legislation last year. It was not considered when Republicans controlled the Senate, but DFLers now have a one seat advantage in the chamber.

Opponents of legalizing cannabis for recreational purposes have raised myriad of issues with Democrats’ proposal saying it could have negative impacts to public health, override the powers of local governments and increase young people’s access to the drug.

Republicans have accused Democrats of rushing the issue through committee and not considering proposals their to increase safeguards in the legislation.

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