Minnesota’s former governor Jesse Ventura says he wants to be the “first major politician in America” to have a marijuana brand featuring his likeness—which is now possible as the state implements its new cannabis legalization law.
Ventura, who has long championed marijuana reform and appeared next to current Gov. Tim Walz (D) when he signed Minnesota’s legalization bill in May, spoke about his future ambitions and personal experience with cannabis during a panel hosted by Canna Connect on Saturday, asserting that Minnesota is positioned to grow the “best cannabis in the world.”
“I want involvement in this. I want involvement in the state of Minnesota,” Ventura said. “Minnesota grown, Minnesota produced and promoted by Minnesota’s governor, or former.”
“One personal thing for me on this is this: I want to be the first major politician in America who puts his likeness, face and everything behind cannabis,” he said. “This is an ego thing for me. I want to have my name considered with cannabis.”
The reason being, he said, is that he wants “to see Minnesota succeed here” and not have the market dominated by large out-of-state corporations.
“I would prefer to do Minnesota—put my name with Minnesota companies and make cannabis a prosperous business in Minnesota by Minnesotans, keeping the money in Minnesota,” the former governor and professional wrestler said. “We’ve always been a great farm state. There is no doubt Minnesota can produce corn, we can produce wheat—we can also produce the best cannabis in the world too. There’s no doubt we can do that also.”
Ventura, a Navy veteran, also stressed at the event that he doesn’t believe in the medical versus recreational marijuana dichotomy, saying he shares cannabis icon Tommy Chong’s perspective that “the entire plant is medical no matter what you choose to use it for.”
A registered Minnesota medical cannabis patient himself, Ventura said that he typically vapes marijuana, which he uses to treat non-specific neuropathy in the feet, a condition that causes numbness and an uncomfortable tingling sensation, as well as post-traumatic stress. He said that marijuana helps him sleep through that discomfort.
But his passion for reform came to the fore decades ago, when his wife developed a serious seizure disorder that was not responding to traditional pharmaceuticals that she was being prescribed. He explained how he decided to break the law, taking his wife to Colorado at a time before Minnesota even had a legal medical program and obtaining cannabis oil from a friend.
He said that after the former first lady started taking cannabis, she never experienced another seizure. Yet, Ventura pointed out, health insurance companies “pay for the for pharma things that don’t do shit, but they won’t pay for cannabis.”
The former governor previously shared the story of his wife’s cannabis treatment in February in impassioned testimony during a Senate committee hearing on the legalization bill that’s actively being implemented.
Meanwhile, Ventura isn’t the only former Minnesota elected official eyeing entry into the legal cannabis business. Former House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (D) announced earlier this year that he plans to launch a line of THC-infused beverages.
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As of Tuesday, adults 21 and older in Minnesota can now possess and grow marijuana for personal use under that now-enacted legislation. And the process of automatically expunging prior cannabis records is also being implemented by state officials.
While traditional recreational cannabis retailers are not expected to open until at least next year, other key components have now gone into effect. Meanwhile, an Indian tribe launched the state’s first marijuana sales to adults on Tuesday.
The law also formally created the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), which launched last month. It will be the primary regulatory body that will oversee the market and for which the governor is actively seeking an executive director.
Another body that has been instituted is the Cannabis Expungement Board, which will facilitate record sealing for people with eligible marijuana convictions on their records. The review process for eligible cases commenced on Tuesday.
Even before Walz signed the reform bill, the state launched a website that serves as a hub for information about the new law. Officials have also already started soliciting vendors to help build a licensing system for recreational marijuana businesses.