We got this wrong – get used to it

Last Thursday Governor Walz announced his appointment for the State’s first Director of the Office of Cannabis Management, Erin Dupree. By Friday Dupree had resigned after it was reported Dupree’s cannabis retail store had been selling illegal cannabis products, and that she had been the subject of several federal tax liens and lawsuits.

According to the Star Tribune,

“DuPree had no government experience, and her résumé did not seem to match many of the expected qualifications sought for the role. The administration was blindsided by reports of her federal liens, illegal product sales and past lawsuits filed against her.”

To his credit, Governor Walz immediately took responsibility for the misstep, stating:

“We got this wrong.”

It appears Dupree and all Minnesotans continue to pay the price for rushed and poorly conceived cannabis legalization — last year in the form of gummies and THC drinks, and this year in the expanded legalization of “recreational adult use” cannabis to include smokable leaf marijuana.

Dupree’s cannabis shop reportedly sold gummy and vaping products that exceeded the THC content written into law. This was not unique to Dupree’s shop and is not unique to the industry due to the state’s poorly rolled out messaging and regulation of cannabis products last year.

We should expect similar problems associated with the legalization of recreational adult use marijuana as time goes by. There just aren’t examples anywhere of legalizing marijuana that have turned out well. 

In fact, in nearly every case legalization has failed to result in an “economic boon” for the state, largely because in nearly every case the black market has flourished, rather than been eliminated, as is often promised. Crime increases, homelessness increases, and the general quality of life decreases with legalization. But the people have their pot, so…. 

I wrote about the experiences of other states in a piece found here. A summary of the results of legalization are: 

  • Increased use and abuse of marijuana.
  • Increased appeal for and use of marijuana by minors.
  • Increased incidents of driving while impaired, and associated injuries and fatalities
  • Increased accidental ingestion of marijuana in its many forms by children.
  • Increased use of marijuana in prohibited locations such as public venues, hotels, concerts, restaurants, schools, public transportation, and vehicles, etc.
  • Increased black market sales and associated crime and violence.

Despite the lessons learned in other states, Minnesota’s DFL Legislature and Governor Walz were convinced they could do it differently. If the efforts to set up the state’s regulatory office offer any glimpse into the future of legalized marijuana, we are in for far more problems than we were promised. 

We are also likely to hear far fewer apologies coming from our Governor or the Legislature as future problems arise. That would border on an acknowledgment of “getting it wrong” on a large scale, and that just is unlikely to happen.

(Photo Credit: State of Minnesota, Office of Governor Tim Walz)