With cannabis legalization legislation being proposed in Minnesota, it may appear that there is widespread support for proposals to end the criminalization of people found with marijuana. Recreational cannabis has already been legalized in 11 states, and Minnesota may join them in the future. Nevertheless, in 2019, drug enforcement teams in the state reported a “record year” of drug seizures, particularly marijuana and other cannabis products. The agencies also said that drug raids and seizures for heroin, cocaine and prescription pills almost doubled from 2018 and 2019, while cannabis seizures spiked by 62% in the same time period.
In fact, since cannabis was legalized in states like Colorado in 2014, seizures have gone up 33 times. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety said that they were seizing all types of cannabis products, from marijuana flowers to edibles, concentrates and vape cartridges. The spokesperson boasted of achieving the “largest seizure” of 75,000 vape cartridges with THC in one home in Anoka County. Officials said that many people had traveled back to Minnesota with products that were purchased legally in other states but justified the increased enforcement by saying that drug trafficking is linked to violence and gang activity, despite the legal source of the cannabis.
Many advocates for cannabis legalization have raised concerns about the criminal prosecutions that many people have faced for cannabis possession or distribution, especially as marijuana is legalized in an increasing number of states. People have faced heavy fines, jail time and felony criminal records due to drug convictions related to cannabis.
Cannabis prosecutions and police activity have played a major role in sparking demands for legalization, but people continue to face serious consequences if they are accused of drug charges. A criminal defense attorney may help people to present a strong challenge and work to prevent a conviction.