State Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, voiced his opposition to legislation that would legalize recreational marijuana in Minnesota.

Ingebrigtsen said that Minnesota Democrats are sending a “mixed message” on the impact of substance abuse.

“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,” Ingebrigtsen said in a statement.

Sen. Ingebrigtsen
Sen. Ingebrigtsen

Ingebrigtsen made the comments Tuesday, Feb. 4 after House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, and Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis, announced a new plan to legalize recreational marijuana in the 2020 session, which opens Feb. 11.

“As our state and nation continue to come to terms with an ongoing opioid crisis, how can Gov. Walz and Democrat leadership honestly believe that recreational marijuana will not have a negative impact across our communities?” Ingebrigtsen asked. “Have they not seen the statistics? Do they not care to acknowledge the residual consequences that have occurred in Colorado, Washington, and other states that have rushed forward to legalize recreational marijuana?”

Ingebrigtsen added, “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?”

Ingebrigtsen, a former Douglas County sheriff, called the legislation “dangerous” and “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,” Ingebrigtsen said.