Blue Earth County Sheriff pens letters voicing concerns on possible marijuana legalization

Blue Earth County Sheriff Jeff Wersal said Thursday in a letter posted to social media that he has serious concerns over the potential legalization of marijuana.

“These bills have been moving through the legislature at a rapid pace, and I am concerned that state lawmakers may not address some key public safety issues that would arise if marijuana is legalized this session,” says Wersal’s letter.

The bill just cleared the  Senate Rules and Administration Committee.  It must clear two more panels before it can go for a full vote.

Wersal says law enforcement lacks an instant on-site test for THC intoxication, similar to the breathalyzer, and a standard to determine if the driver is unfit to be behind the wheel.  He said he believes legalization would lead to more deaths on Minnesota roadways if a roadside testing method is not in place.

He also disputes claims that legalizing weed would hamper the black market.  “With legalized recreational use, it may be more difficult to enforce the law and prevent criminals from bypassing regulations on production and sales meant to keep Minnesotans safe.”

Wersal also cites Colorado’s increase in opioid deaths between 2019 and 2020.  Data from the Colorado Health Institute shows there were 620 opioid-related deaths in the state in 2019, compared to 956 deaths in 2020. The number of Minnesota’s own opioid deaths more than doubled between 2019 and 2021, according to data from state health officials.

Opioid deaths, Minnesota Department of Health

Marijuana legalization will also bring substantial new costs that will overshadow the tax revenue it brings, according to Wersal.  “Minnesotans must be ready to make that investment and have a plan to fund projects like developing a roadside test, roadway safety initiatives, drug expert training, dependency relief programs, and other public health and safety costs if marijuana is legalized.”


More about: