The Minnesota Secretary of State’s office has reported election filings by three candidates of the Legal Marijuana Now political party, a recognized minor political party under Minnesota law.
The candidates are Dennis Schuller of Richfield, seeking the 5th District seat in Congress; Susan Pendergast Sindt of Maplewood, running in the 4th Congressional District; and Martin Super of Minneapolis in State Senate District 60. Super is the only other candidate on the ballot facing incumbent DFL Senator Kari Dziedzic, since no Republican filed there.
Schuller and Sindt are both small business owners. Super, a machinist by trade, is retired. None has previously run for office.
As minor party candidates, the trio had to qualify for the ballot by submitting nominating petitions signed by citizens of their respective districts. Major party candidates simply pay a filing fee to qualify.
Minor party and independent candidates, once their petitions are approved, are entered directly into the November 8th general election.
Although none of the candidates or their petitioning volunteers experienced the interference encountered by a Libertarian candidate in 2014 who was illegally arrested by Minneapolis Park Police, they found their First Amendment rights disputed during the two-week petition period from May 17th to 31st.
Minneapolis Park employees tried again this year to intimidate one of the candidates but dared not arrest him. Store managers from Target, CVS Pharmacy, and SuperAmerica called police in three separate instances to demand the removal of petitioners from public sidewalks. In every case, Minneapolis police officers determined the Legal Marijuana Now petitioners were not violating any law.
The Legal Marijuana Now Party is a recent spin-off from the Minnesota Grassroots Party, which was founded in 1986 to oppose drug prohibition and to campaign for the re-legalization of Cannabis in Minnesota and nationally. In 2014, the Legal Marijuana Now candidate for Attorney General received over 57,000 votes.
Voter-initiated ballot measures will be presented in several states this year as legalization supporters hope to sustain the momentum generated by popular-vote victories in four western states in recent elections. Maine and Nevada will definitely have the issue on the ballot; California probably will; and North Dakota might, if an on-going petition drive there succeeds.
Minnesota’s state constitution doesn’t permit citizens to use the initiative method to enact state law, so the pro-cannabis parties run candidates in the role of “political surrogates,” trying to demonstrate popular support for cannabis law reform proposals.
The words “Legal Marijuana Now” on the ballot next to each candidate’s name should guarantee that any votes cast for him or her will convey an unmistakable message.
A recent Gallup poll found that 58% of the public favors restoring the right of adults to enjoy personal (or so-called “recreational”) use of cannabis.
Minnesota’s pro-legalization candidates will establish campaign committees and websites soon. Meanwhile, interested persons may look online for information about Legal Marijuana Now activities by searching for #LegalMarijuanaNow.
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