Marijuana on the Midterms: Where Tina Smith (D-MN) Stands on Cannabis Legalization

As the United States Congressional elections approach this fall, you may be wondering where Tina Smith (D-MN) stands on cannabis legalization. On December 13, 2017, Smith was appointed by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton to fill the seat vacated by Al Franken (who retired in the face of several sexual misconduct allegations) and serve as the junior Senator of Minnesota until the special election (scheduled to coincide with the November 6 regular election) this fall, in which she will run to hold the seat until Franken's term would have ended in January 2021.

Political History of Tina Smith

A former entrepreneur and marketing consultant for General Mills, Tina Smith also served as the vice president of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota before entering politics as a chief of staff for Gov. Dayton in 2006. Smith was elected as the 48th Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota in 2014, and she held the position until her appointment to serve as Senator until the 2018 special election.

Since Smith was sworn in as Minnesota's Senator in January, she has stated that she is committed to protecting the progressive legacy of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, which she is a member of, and other liberal  leaders that have come before her. U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) has described Smith as a “progressive champion,” and the MinnPost called her a “pro-business Democrat.”

However, while her website describes her as someone “focused on continuing the progressive legacy of the seat she holds,” and perhaps putting her on par with Franken's support of medical marijuana, Smith has yet to publicly clarify her position on marijuana legalization. She has voiced support for legalizing hemp via the Hemp Farming Act, which she said in a May 9 post on Twitter would “create new opportunity for our farmers by allowing them to grow & sell a new product.”

Our Grade for Tina Smith: C+

Without Smith's firm stance for or against cannabis legalization in a state where the herb has been decriminalized for more than 40 years and legal for medicinal uses since 2014, we are cautiously optimistic that she will support the rights won by marijuana advocates up to this point and in the future.


President Trump's 2020 budget request includes a loophole that would let Washington, DC finally open up dispensaries for recreational cannabis. Although DC voters passed a ballot initiative to legalize recreational cannabis back in 2014, Congress has used its power over the nation's capital to prevent it from selling cannabis for recreational use. Right now, local dispensaries can only sell medical marijuana to registered patients thanks to Congress, which controls spending in the District of Columbia.

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