U.S. House Race in Minnesota: Where Pete Stauber and Joe Radinovich Stand on Marijuana Legalization

Here we break down how the two major candidates for Minnesota’s 8th congressional district feel about marijuana laws.

One of the most hotly contested congressional races in the country is in Minnesota’s 8th District between St. Louis County Commissioner Pete Stauber and former state Rep. Joe Radinovich. For months, the two candidates in this tight race have traveled throughout the district’s 17 counties in the northeastern part of the state in an effort to win over voters.

Members of the U.S. House play many roles, including writing and passing federal laws. With many cannabis reform bills introduced in the current meeting of Congress, the 116th Congress is expected to vote on legislation related to cannabis’ classification under federal law. A record-breaking percentage of American voters are in favor of legalizing marijuana, including 56 percent of Minnesota adults.

Whoever becomes the next Representative for Minnesota’s 8th congressional district will likely have a say on whether federal cannabis policy should be reformed. Here’s where Stauber and Radinovich stand on the marijuana issue.

Pete Stauber (R)

  • Recreational Marijuana Legalization: Opposes the legalization of recreational marijuana
  • Medical Marijuana Legalization: Unclear

Republican nominee Pete Stauber has made it clear that he opposes loosening the laws on recreational marijuana.

When asked directly whether he supports the legalization of recreational marijuana by CBS Minnesota, Stauber replied, “I have seen firsthand the devastating affects of the opioid crisis during my 22 years as a police officer with the city of Duluth. I have had to deliver death notifications to unsuspecting parents and it has shaped my opinion on legalization of drugs. My job as a police officer was to protect my citizens and get all drugs off our streets and out of the hands of our youngest and brightest, which includes marijuana.”

A police officer for more than two decades, Stauber considers marijuana a “gateway drug,” despite evidence showing otherwise.

Stauber has suggested, however, that he may be open to reducing penalties for non-violent cannabis offenses.

“It is well known that our federal prison system is costly to taxpayers, loaded with first time offenders and non-violent drug offenders,” he said in September after being asked whether he supports releasing non-violent drug offenders from prison and expunging their records. “As a former law enforcement officer, I enforced the law and brought people to justice. That being said, it depends on what the changes in proposed legislation would be, and I could be amenable to common sense reform.”

Stauber hasn’t indicated whether he is supportive of the use of marijuana for medical purposes, nor whether he believes states should have the right to legalize cannabis.

Joe Radinovich (D)

  • Recreational Marijuana Legalization: Supports recreational marijuana legalization, with tax revenue going to healthcare and education
  • Medical Marijuana Legalization: Supports medical marijuana legalization

Democratic nominee Joe Radinovich supports the legalization of marijuana for both medical and recreational use. He has made cannabis reform one of the issues central to his campaign.

“I believe that the federal prohibition on research of the benefits of medicinal marijuana for illnesses ranging from chronic seizures in children to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) impacting our veterans is wrong, and that it should be thoroughly studied to assess benefits and risks in the same way we study many other drugs,” Radinovich said in a statement on his campaign’s website.

He has called for the use of tax revenue collected from legal cannabis sales to be invested back into the community. Radinovich also supports expunging the records of persons with low-level cannabis convictions.

“As part of legalization, I believe we should act to expunge the criminal records of Americans who have marijuana offenses, and that we should put the revenue local governments collect from sales after legalization to good use by making stronger investments in healthcare and education that Minnesota families expect,” he said.

In the weeks leading up to the election, claims have flown at both candidates. Stauber’s campaign in September made mention of a marijuana-related citation charge against Radinovich when he was a teenager, suggesting its evidence that Radinovich “isn’t fit to serve.”

Radinovich quickly owned up to the claim, and his campaign manager said that, “He cooperated and took responsibility for his actions, and the officials in he case saw fit to dismiss the charges.”

Radinovich has also said that farmers should be allowed to grow agricultural hemp.

Marijuana in the Midterms

The 2018 midterms are only a day away. Read up on which states will be voting on marijuana, as well as where candidates stand on legalization, through our Election 2018 page. You can learn more about current cannabis laws in the U.S. through our education page.