A Minnesota Republican thinks his Democratic colleagues are sending “mixed messages” to Minnesotans on the impact of substance use.
In October, House DFL leaders unveiled a “comprehensive plan to prevent youth tobacco use,” which included calls for raising the purchasing age to 21, banning all flavored products, and raising taxes on tobacco products.
The state then filed a lawsuit against JUUL Labs, the vaping giant that controls an estimated 75 percent of the e-cigarette market.
Just last week, however, DFLers held a press conference to discuss legislation to legalize marijuana in the state, The Minnesota Sun reported.
House Minority Leader Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) said Senate Republicans “can fold their arms and say no,” but the “people of Minnesota will roll over them eventually on issues like this.”
“So they can decide to be speed bumps or they can decide to be active participants in crafting policy,” he said.
State Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandria) (pictured above) said in a statement that the two policy initiatives “send a mixed message to Minnesotans on the impact of substance use in our state.”
“At a time when Democrats are calling for Tobacco 21 and a crackdown on vaping, they are moving full steam ahead with legislation to legalize recreational marijuana, calling it a ‘top priority’ this session,” he said. “As our state and nation continue to come to terms with an ongoing opioid crisis, how can Governor Walz and Democrat leadership honestly believe that recreational marijuana will not have a negative impact across our communities?”
In his opposition to legal cannabis, Ingebrigtsen pointed to the “residual consequences that have occurred in Colorado, Washington, and other states that have rushed forward to legalize recreational marijuana.”
“What exactly are their answers to the increased consumption by teens, more DUI traffic accidents, higher abuse rates of alcohol and other drugs, or a startling rise in mental health issues and suicides?” he continued, saying the pushing for legalizing marijuana is “misguided.”
“Rather than focus on something with so many question marks Democrats should work across the aisle and focus on securing our shared priorities, such as reducing the cost of health care, cracking down on government fraud and failure, and improving our education and infrastructure as Minnesota kicks off the new decade,” he concluded.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to anth[email protected].
Photo “State Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen” by MN Senate Republican Caucus.