Jeremy Moen, a Nevis resident, spoke to the Hubbard County Board Tuesday to advocate for both medicinal and recreational marijuana.

“We’ve all heard cannabis is on the way to being legalized,” Moen said, noting that Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and North Dakota have or are in the process of legalization.

He referred county commissioners to an opinion piece that appeared in an October 2018 U.S.A. Today. Entitled “Pot never should have been illegal in the first place,” it was written by Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project.

Moen said cannabis became illegal in the 1930s. “Harry Anslinger got up on a pulpit and said marijuana makes dark people think they’re as good as white people.”

The Federal Bureau of Narcotics, which later became the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), was established on July 1, 1930. President Herbert Hoover appointed Anslinger the commissioner, a position he would hold under four U.S. presidents for more than three decades, according to the DEA.

Since 2012, Moen said a town of 300 in Colorado have brought in $2 million in revenues from sales tax alone.

“Wouldn’t that be a nice 5 percent bump to the $40-million-dollar budget we already have? We have 21,000 people in this county. Let’s say 12,000 of them don’t use it. Maybe the other 9,000 want to,” he said.

Medical cannabis does not exist in Hubbard County, Moen continued, noting a patient has to take a day off of work and drive several hours to a pharmacy in Hibbing, Moorhead or St. Cloud.

Moen asked the board what information they needed “so we can work together on this.”

He explained that he has been to the state Capitol repeatedly on this issue. Moen commented that it as “a good thing” that the Minnesota Senate rejected a bill to legalize recreational marijuana last spring. “That was not a bill we wanted to pass. It was Prohibition-like,” he said.

Minnesota’s medical cannabis program began distributing medical cannabis to registered patients in July 2015.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), qualifying patients must be enrolled in the medical cannabis patient registry to be eligible to legally purchase and possess medical cannabis. As part of the application process, a patient’s qualifying medical condition must be certified by a health care practitioner. The patient and medical condition must be re-evaluated and re-certified by a health care practitioner every year.

MDH figures show that, as of Sept. 30, 2019, there were 17,961 patients actively enrolled in the patient registry statewide, an increase of 36 percent (or 4,735) above the 13,226 who were enrolled on October 2018.