Minnesotans in favor of marijuana legalization, oppose mining near Boundary Waters

The latest results from an MPR/Star Tribune poll have been released.
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A majority of Minnesotans are in favor of the legalization of marijuana, and prioritize environmental protection over mining in the north of the state.

That's according to the latest results released from the poll taken by MPR and the Star Tribune last week, which quizzed 800 voters on a wide range of political issues.

With regards to marijuana legalization, 51 percent of responders said they favor making Minnesota the latest state to legalize it, compared to 37 percent who oppose and 12 percent unsure.

While 51 percent represents a majority, the poll does have a 3.5 percent margin of error.

It comes after several attempts in recent years, mainly from Minnesota Democrats, to pass a legalization bill.

House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (D–Golden Valley) revealed last month his party's plans for a legal marijuana bill, which covers ways on which the marijuana market can grow equitably, as well as looking to expunge prior marijuana convictions.

But the bill faces a challenge passing, given that the Minnesota GOP, which mostly opposes legalization, is in control of the Senate.

With regards to the mining question, it's become increasingly topical because of the ongoing debate over the Twin Metals copper-nickel mine, which is proposed for a vast area of Superior National Forest near the Boundary Waters.

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President Donald Trump has backed the project, renewing previously mothballed mining leases for the work, while some leading Minnesota Republicans, including Rep. Kurt Daudt, have spoke out in its favor as a potential job booster for the Iron Range.

There is also ongoing controversy over the PolyMet mining project near Hoyt Lakes, which has been subject to numerous legal challenges over the years. 

Only 22 percent of those polled by MPR/Star Tribune support mining near the Boundary Waters, while 60 percent said protecting the environment was their priority, with 18 percent undecided.

Tellingly, a majority of Republicans, even taking into account the 3.5 percent margin of error, prioritize the protection of Minnesota's natural resources over mining, and mining also opposed by 57 percent of those polled who live in northern Minnesota, which stands to benefit economically the most from the industry.

Just last week, Rep. Betty McCollum was in the news after criticizing a federal government report into the potential pollution of the Boundary Waters, which was only eight lines long.

The same poll also found that Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has a 56 percent approval rate after his first year in office, while 25 percent disapprove, while 44 percent of Minnesotans approve of the job President Donald Trump is doing, with 52 percent disapproving.

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