Why did GOP-controlled Minnesota legalize cannabis edibles?

"What's happening in Minnesota right now will probably never happen again in the United States."

The question mark could be for various reasons. Surprise that it is the state of Minnesota? Surprised about cannabis infused drinks being legal anywhere that cannabis dispensary distribution is not yet legal? Or, a question about just how long this will last?

As reported in various outlets, on July 1, 2022, Statue 151.72, regulating the "sale of certain cannabinoid products," passed by the Minnesota State Legislature. As reported in a recent Vice News report, by Jerard Fagerberg, "It was a baffling development, considering state Republicans' longstanding opposition to marijuana legalization, yet Statute 151.72 passed—unanimously, with zero debate, in a GOP-controlled Senate."

Ostensibly, both sides of the isle agreed to this bill as a regulatory mechanism for a not yet legal recreational market for selling cannabis flower, hash oil, topicals or other products. As reported in the Star Tribune, an article that offers an insightful discussion of what legislatures claim to have known and not known about the bill, "Cannabis advocates say they can hardly believe the law passed the Minnesota Legislature…Steven Brown, CEO of Nothing But Hemp, said he will begin selling a dozen new THC products Friday at his six Minnesota retail stores, with a few dozen more rolling out over the next month."

Zero debate might imply unanimous consensus. Or that the only unanimous consensus was to not have read the bill. Which seems quite Patriot Act-like. Or, with regards any legislation having to do with the drug war, agreed upon without reading to simply out "law and order" your political opponent. Sen. Jim Abeler told the Star Tribune, "he didn't realize the new law would legalize edibles containing delta-9 THC. Rather, he thought the law would only regulate delta-8 THC products." 

The devil is in the details, so the saying goes about legislation and contracts, lawyers and politicians – all somewhat redundant categories of people and actions.

Yet, one thing is constant: capitalism. As Jason Sandquist, co-founder of Wild Mind Ales, explains, "…Wild Mind released their 5 mg WLD WTR Infusions line on September 9. They sold out—over 1,000 cans—before noon on the first day. 'You know what, if I don't do it, the next person down the street is gonna,' Sandquist said. 'It's like a gold rush.'"

Sure, that is one perspective. Not to argue against profit, or for profit, or against or for regulation, but who is profiting from the people languishing in prison for doing what is now an ideological imperative – slangin' product. Hopefully, these businesses cashing in are kicking back to make sure that folks get out, get their records expunged, and that community-based organizations have the resources to support people surviving the ongoing consequences of the so-called drug war. According to the ACLU, Minnesota is the 8th worst state for racial disparities in marijuana arrests.

For a historical perspective on justifications for the violence and racism during the time of the so-called gold rush, see Exterminate Them: Written Accounts of the Murder, Rape, and Enslavement of Native Americans During the Gold Rush. For a history of the social world during the California gold rush, see Roaring Camp, by Susan Lee Johnson. For a history of the xenophobic violence against immigrant workers during the gold rush that displaced the original workers and set the stage for profiteers and capitalists to take advantage of a supposed "wild west market", see "Manifest Destiny at the End of a Rope," ch.5 of Strangers on Familiar Soil: Rediscovering the Chile-California Connection, by Edward Dallam Melillo.

It is worth noting how the logics of nationalism, greed and superiority – I am stronger – permeated the first gold rush, "Many Chileans arrived in California bringing with them time-tested mining techniques, geological knowledge, and advanced mineral-processing technologies. As a result, they were among California's most successful miners. Although their accomplishments earned them the respect of some Yankees, their efficient handiwork bred resentment among other North American prospectors. From 1848 onward, California became a so-called "Linchocracia," a space dominated by aggressive performances of manifest destiny and nativist ideology."

"Dr. Keith Villa, author of Brewing with Cannabis: Using THC and CBD in Beer, warns of more sweeping changes, especially with the potential of federal legalization. In 2017, Dr. Villa launched Ceria Brewing, a Colorado-based brewery specializing in non-alcoholic beer infused with low doses of THC and CBD. In his estimation, things will probably tend towards the model he's seen in Colorado or California, where beer and THC are kept strictly separate. What's happening in Minnesota right now will probably never happen again in the United States."

As the metaphor of the wild, wild west colonizes our imagination once again, there is enough money in the legal cannabis business, and therefore enough political leverage, to be creative and get everyone who was swept up in the ideological dragnet of law and order politics out of prison. There are also enough resources to reinvest in the communities that were devastated by the organized abandonment that accompanied being targeted as a criminalized population and a hot-zone of drug activity.