Jesse Ventura says ‘cannabis saved my life’ as he testified for legalization in Minnesota

Former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura told a powerful story about how cannabis stopped his wife’s chronic seizures during testimony in favor of marijuana legalization at the state legislature on Tuesday. 

"Cannabis saved my life. Let that sink in. Not me personally, but the 38th first lady of Minnesota. And if I get choked up a little, bear with me," he told a Minnesota Senate committee. 

RELATED: Legal marijuana push starts in Minnesota; supporters say '2023 is the year'

Ventura, who favored legalizing marijuana when he served as governor from 1999 to 2003, told the senators his wife Terry began having seizures about 10 years ago, and there was little he could do to help her.

"These were the type of seizures where you can't do anything but comfort the person, make sure they're breathing, make sure they're not swallowing their tongue," he said.

He said doctors tried four anti-seizure medications, but none worked, and they all had bad side effects.  In desperation, they drove to Colorado, where friends gave his wife her first dose of medical marijuana. 

"My wife took the first three drops under the tongue and has not had a seizure since. None. Marijuana cannabis stopped the seizures. Not our medicine," he said. 

At the time, medical marijuana was not yet legal in Minnesota, but he made sure his wife could continue to use cannabis to keep the seizures at bay. He explained his position by referencing the main character from the Clint Eastwood film "Dirty Harry." 

"I kind of took the attitude of Dirty Harry Callahan when I said, 'Well, then the law is wrong because I'm putting my wife ahead of Minnesota law.' And I'll admit that today. I did," he said.  

Minnesota legalized medical marijuana in 2014. The state's program was still restrictive, which Ventura argued contributed to the cost of her medication, $600 a month, when she started, though he said they now pay about $300 a month.  

He urged the legislatures to pass legislation that would legalize cannabis and open the market to competition to lower prices. 

"If you open up the doors, capitalism will take hold. Prices will go down. I don't want no other family to have to go through what my family went through. I don't want anyone to have to do that," he said.