ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - Former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura says newly re-elected Gov. Tim Walz personally assured him that a marijuana legalization bill will be one of the first measures Democrats approve when they take full control of the state Legislature in January.
Ventura, speaking on his podcast, said Walz called him on Wednesday to thank Ventura for endorsing his re-election.
"The sticking point for cannabis in Minnesota were Republicans in the (Senate)," said Ventura. "Well, they lost it now, and the governor reassured me that one of the first items that will be passed -- Minnesota, get ready -- cannabis is going to have its prohibition lifted. That’s the news I got today."
In late October, Ventura endorsed Walz's reelection campaign. Ventura said on his podcast that Walz invited him to attend the future bill signing ceremony.
"The thing that honors me is I've been invited to when the bill gets signed," added Ventura. "The current governor, he said, 'This started with you, so you deserve to be there and see it come to a close over 20 years later.'"
FOX 9 asked Walz's spokeswoman if what Ventura said was true. The two men did talk about marijuana legalization as "something they may work together on to get done," said Claire Lancaster, the governor's spokeswoman.
Walz endorsed marijuana legalization earlier this year. While lawmakers approved a measure allowing hemp-derived, low-potency THC products, only the DFL-controlled House passed a full legalization bill. Republicans who controlled the Senate blocked the measure.
Even once the DFL gains the trifecta in January -- control of the House, Senate, and governor's office -- passage is not guaranteed.
Minnesota is Ready, a coalition of pro-legalization groups, said 62 current or incoming House members have pledged to support legalization. Eight incoming House Democrats haven't stated a position, said Leili Fatehi, a spokeswoman for the coalition. In the House, 68 votes are required to pass a bill.
In the Senate, where 34 votes are needed, 28 current or incoming DFL senators have pledged support, Fatehi said. Another six incoming Senate Democrats haven't taken a public position.