Remarks of Ryan Hamilton for Minnesotans Against Marijuana Legalization Press Conference

Watch the Full Press Conference

Minnesota is not ready for legalized cannabis. No state has been ready for legalized cannabis. The legalization of recreational marijuana has proven itself to be a failed, industry-driven experiment that offers zero benefit to the common good.

According to a Gallup study, only 12% to 13% of the population regularly partakes in recreational marijuana. 

Much of the support for legalization is based on a lack of information or blatant misinformation.

The issue has been dominated by one-sided messaging, driven by those who believe they can benefit financially or politically from the commercialization of THC.

This form of legalization reduces individuals and communities to profit centers for a predatory industry that feeds on addiction.

Any change to Minnesota’s cannabis policies will impact every Minnesotan’s quality of life - rich or poor, young or old, users and non-users.

This scorecard will ensure that families, disadvantaged communities, and vulnerable populations get the consideration they deserve in this policy debate.

As we’ve seen from other states that have opened their doors to the marijuana industry, the promises made to justify legalization don’t come true.

Let’s look at Virginia- in the year after legalization, Black adults accounted for nearly 60 percent of the marijuana cases in state courts, despite Black people accounting for only 20 percent of the state population. We have seen similar unkept promises from other states that have legalized. Yet proponents continue to portray marijuana legalization as a vehicle to correct injustice and create social equity.

When it comes to marijuana, we must be careful not to injure justice under the guise of promoting it. 

Marijuana legalization delays justice by tying expungements, financial investment, and other helpful reforms to the approval of a drug industry. It is unjust to put such a price on justice. 

Social justice requires that all social actors, including businesses, families, and the government embrace certain responsibilities toward each other.  This scorecard will ensure that any cannabis legislation is held accountable to those responsibilities.


  • Every month, we get a fresh crop of articles and scholarly reports from states like Colorado, California, Illinois, and Virginia that reveal the actual effects of a rush to legalization.
  • Black and brown Minnesotans also deserve safe roads, safe communities, and drug free environments that will allow their children to thrive.
  • If the push for legalization is really about racial justice, then the legislature should focus on a decriminalization effort that is not contingent upon the full commercialization of THC.
  • We hope this scorecard will encourage our Legislators to make decisions about marijuana that respect the common good
  • According to a 2020 study, the rates of cannabis use disorder in people age 12 to 17 grew 25% more in states that legalized recreational marijuana than in those that didn’t.
  • Heavy marijuana use in a person’s early 20s or teenage years may affect cognitive development long-term given that the brain is not fully formed at this age.
  • Second-hand marijuana smoke is a concern for bystanders’ health given that it is carcinogenic and increases the risk of a cough and other respiratory issues.
  • A 2022 survey conducted by the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority also showed that Virginians do not perceive marijuana-impaired driving to be nearly as dangerous as other risky behaviors.

Similarly, when it comes to legalizing recreational marijuana, we owe Minnesotans a positive vision of the good. Rather than enabling people to dull their brain function with marijuana, we should address the root causes that lead so many to recreational drug use in the first place. As Catholics, we believe there is a better path to justice than normalizing and commercializing a drug that has been linked to the degradation of communities, the environment, and the common good.

Legalizing what some will treat as a recreational activity will likely impose much harm on the rest of us, especially in the realm of public safety where it is associated with an increase in crime and traffic accidents. Marijuana endangers those already struggling with substance abuse and serves as a gateway drug for youth. Among states where recreational marijuana is legal, drug use among teenagers increases. We owe it to Minnesotans to provide safe roadways, safe workplaces, and healthy internal and external environments to raise children. 


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