Your tax dollars at work: Minnesota is spending millions to fund marijuana companies

When lawmakers legalized marijuana last session, they also set aside tens of millions of tax dollars to subsidize the marijuana industry. The bill that legalized marijuana, HF 100, instructed the DEED commissioner to establish numerous programs that will provide loans or grants to individuals or organizations involved in the marijuana industry. A couple of the programs include

  1. CanStartup: Provides loans of up to $150,000 “to new cannabis microbusinesses and to support job creation in communities where long-term residents are eligible to be social equity applicants.” $6 million (or $3 million each year) was set aside for this program for the 2024-25 biennium.
  2. CanGrow: Provides loans of up to $150,000 to farmers so that they can expand into the legal cannabis industry. $2 million (or $1 million each year) was appropriated for the 2024-25 biennium for this program.
  3. CanTrain: This program awards grants to “(1) eligible organizations to train people for work in the legal cannabis industry, and (2) eligible individuals to acquire such training.” The 2024-25 budget set aside $4 million ($2 million each year) each year for the program. Individuals would be awarded grants of up to $20,000 “to pursue a training program relevant to a career in the legal cannabis industry.”
  4. CanNavigate: provides grants to individuals and organizations to help them “navigate the regulatory structure of the legal cannabis industry.” $2 million for the 2024-25 biennium was set aside for this program.

Spending on the marijuana industry does not end there, however. Last month, according to MinnPost, Minnesota agreed to spend tens of millions on a Missouri-based Cannabis company. Specifically, the state

approved up to $20 million in low-interest and partly forgivable loans for HWY35, LLC, to build a $67.8 million marijuana growing and manufacturing plant inside a former wood products facility. The two-phase project promises up to 400 jobs, and the state could forgive up to $15 million of the loans if the company meets certain hiring goals

In reply, another Minnesota-based company has requested similar levels of funding, claiming that they want a fair chance to compete in the industry. This means Minnesota might be shelling out even more money if that application is provided. And who knows how many other companies will come forward in the future asking for funding as well?

Should our tax dollars go to private businesses?

Marijuana legalization has been a point of contention. However, regardless of what you think of Marijuana, it should be concerning that tax dollars are being to subsidize privately owned businesses, especially given how high Minnesota taxes are.