Grassroots—Legalize Cannabis Party

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Grassroots—Legalize Cannabis Party
ChairmanOliver Steinberg[1]
Founded2014; 10 years ago (2014)
HeadquartersSaint Paul
IdeologyMarijuana legalization
Democratic socialism[2]
Colors  Green
0 / 67
House of Representatives
0 / 134
U.S. Senate
0 / 2
U.S. House of Representatives
0 / 8

The Grassroots—Legalize Cannabis Party (G—LC) is a political third party in the U.S. state of Minnesota created by Oliver Steinberg in 2014 to oppose cannabis prohibition. G—LC Is a democratic socialist party with a background branching from the Grassroots Party established in 1986.[2][3]

Grassroots—Legalize Cannabis Party attained major party status in Minnesota in 2018 when their Attorney General candidate, who dropped out of the race to support the Democratic candidate, but whose name nevertheless remained on ballots, received 5.7 percent of the vote.[4]

In 2022, Minnesota G—LC resumed minor party status, when none of their candidates got 5% of votes, which is required for major party ballot access in the state. However their candidate for Minnesota State Auditor received more than 1% of votes, in 2022, maintaining minor party status for G—LC until 2026.[5]


Oliver Steinberg at Minnesota State Capitol in 2015

In 2014, the Grassroots—Legalize Cannabis Party was established by Oliver Steinberg[6] because Steinberg and Chris Wright were unwilling to join the rest of the Grassroots Party when they merged with the Minnesota Legal Marijuana Now Party.[7] In the 2014 race for governor, Wright received 31,259 votes.[8] The party also ran a candidate for State Auditor, in 2014, who received 55,132 votes.

The Grassroots—Legalize Cannabis Party nominated their candidates by petition in 2018 to run for Governor of Minnesota, as well as in the race for Minnesota Attorney General,[9] the results of which earned the group major-party status in Minnesota. A few weeks before the election, the Grassroots—Legalize Cannabis candidate for Attorney General, Noah Johnson, dropped out of the race to support Democratic/Farmer-Labor candidate Keith Ellison[4] who was embroiled in scandal,[10] though Johnson's name remained on the ballot.

Grassroots—Legalize Cannabis Party founder Oliver Steinberg, who previously ran as a Republican candidate[11] and a Grassroots candidate,[12] had a background of violence discrediting the peace movement in the 1970s.[13] Steinberg was the Grassroots—Legalize Cannabis candidate for United States Senator in 2020.[14]

Perennial Republican candidate Rae Hart Anderson was nominated by Grassroots—Legalize Cannabis Party voters in the August 11 primary to run for United States Representative in Minnesota's 7th congressional district on November 3, 2020.[15][16]

Gubernatorial candidates[edit]

The Grassroots—Legalize Cannabis Party nominated their candidates by petition in 2014 to run for Governor of Minnesota. In the race for governor, Chris Wright received 31,259 votes.[8]

In 2018, Wright again was nominated by petition to run for Minnesota Governor, and received 68,664 votes in the November general election. Wright resigned as G—LC chairperson to seek Minnesota Legal Marijuana Now Party’s nomination for Governor in 2022.[1][17]

Steve Patterson, a Brownsdale, Minnesota, businessman and opponent of Governor Tim Walz' COVID-19 lockdown, who blamed these forced closings for hurting small businesses, including his own Rochester beer taproom startup, was nominated in the August, 2022, G—LC gubernatorial primary, and advanced to the general election, getting 22,598 votes, less than one percent, on November 8. In addition to legalizing cannabis for personal use, Patterson supported reducing income taxes for working class people.[18]

Conflict with Democratic Party[edit]

Even though Grassroots—Legalize Cannabis candidates have dropped out of running to support Democratic candidates in some tight races[4] and party leaders have withheld the state party's endorsement of some Grassroots—Legalize Cannabis candidates when they thought doing so might hurt the chances of winning for struggling DFLers, several times Democratic Party leaders have accused the Grassroots—Legalize Cannabis Party of making it hard for Democratic candidates in Minnesota.[19] However, a St. Cloud Times analysis of votes cast in the November 2020 election found that Grassroots—Legalize Cannabis candidates took at least as many, if not more, votes from republicans than they took from DFL candidates.[20]


In 2021, Kevin Shores told a FOX 9 television reporter that he was recruited to run for Congress from Minnesota's 7th district, where Democratic incumbent Collin Peterson lost the race to Republican challenger Michelle Fischbach, in 2020, by a Republican strategist who Shores mistakenly thought was a G—LC representative. Shores, who is blind and suffers from Gulf War syndrome, lost to Hart Anderson in the Grassroots—Legalize Cannabis Party primary.[21][16]

When a Luverne man who had been endorsed by G—LC was unable to file before the deadline, attorney Haroun McClellan filed to run in the August 9, 2022, 1st congressional district special election as a last-minute replacement. McClellan, a graduate of Georgia State University College of Law and former Hennepin County public defender, is contracts manager of a Rochester construction firm.[22]

Conflict with Democratic Party renewed[edit]

Before Minnesota’s May, 2022, deadline to file such a change, a DFL activist, Marcus Harcus, who was 2020 G—LC nominee for District 59A state representative, attempted to hold a G—LC party meeting for the purpose of changing the state party’s name to a name the activist thought might help the Democratic Party by attracting Republicans.[23][24]

In May 2022, G—LC chair Steinberg told a Star Tribune reporter about being worried that voters “perhaps aren’t quite as well-informed as it would be good for them to be.”[17] Later in June, 2022, Steinberg said in an interview that he was frustrated about having former Libertarian candidates running under the G—LC party banner.[24]

2022 gubernatorial primary[edit]

Minnesota G—LC Party held a gubernatorial primary on August 9, 2022, between Steve Patterson & Matt Huff and Darrell Paulsen & Ed Engelmann. Patterson was nominated by G—LC voters and defeated Paulsen, receiving 59% of the party's vote, to advance onto the November 8, 2022, state general election.[25]

Resuming minor party status[edit]

The G—LC Party ran statewide candidates in 2020 and 2022 but none received 5% of votes required for major party ballot access in Minnesota.[5] The party got enough votes, more than 1%, in the Minnesota State Auditor race, in 2022, to retain official minor party privileges, including state public funding.[26]

2023 Minnesota Senate Public Safety Committee hearings[edit]

Testifying in favor of Minnesota Senate File 73 to create a regulated commercial cannabis market, in front of the Public Safety Committee in January, 2023, that marijuana prohibition has not kept people from using the drug, but has "succeeded perhaps in terrorizing or intimidating citizens, in canceling civil liberties, blighting both urban and rural communities, all without eradicating the outlawed substance," said G—LC Party chair Steinberg.[27] in May 2023, Steinberg wrote "I salute DFL lawmakers who finally understood that cannabis prohibition never was necessary; always was unjust and unjustifiable; and always lacked moral authority because it was actually designed to serve as a legal mechanism for racial repression."[28]

According to political scholar William Labovitch, Minnesota's marijuana political parties, G—LC and LMN, are the ones responsible for the DFL party championing SF 73.[29]

Electoral history[edit]

Results in Minnesota state elections[edit]

Year Office Candidate Popular votes Percentage
2014 MN Auditor Judith Schwartzbacker 55,132 2.87%
2018 MN Attorney General Noah Johnson 145,744 5.71%[30]
2020 MN Senator 5 Dennis Barsness 967 2.14%[31]
2020 MN Senator 20 Jason Hoschette 2,901 5.93%[32]
2020 MN Senator 22 Brian Abrahamson 1,947 5.04%[33]
2020 MN Senator 29 Mary Murphy 4,066 8.46%[34]
2020 MN Senator 43 Doug Daubenspeck 3,950 8.46%[35]
2020 MN Senator 63 Chris Wright 3,460 6.59%[36]
2020 MN Representative 59A Marcus Harcus 4,054 24.46%[37]
2022 MN Auditor Will Finn 44,270 1.80%
2022 MN Senator 25 Bill Rood 699 2.08%

Results in Minnesota gubernatorial elections[edit]

Year Candidate Lieutenant Governor candidate Votes Percentage
Chris Wright
David Daniels 31,259 1.58%[8]
2018 Chris Wright Judith Schwartzbacker 68,664 2.65%[38]
2022 Steve Patterson Matt Huff 22,598 0.90%

Results in federal elections[edit]

Year Office Candidate Popular votes Percentage
2020 US Senator Oliver Steinberg 57,174 1.78%[14]
2020 US Representative 1 Bill Rood 21,448 5.81%[39]
2020 US Representative 4 Susan Sindt 29,537 7.59%[40]
2020 US Representative 7 Rae Hart Anderson 6,499 1.79%[41]
2020 US Representative 8 Judith Schwartzbacker 22,190 5.64%[42]
2022 US Representative 1 Haroun McClellan 873 0.70%
2022 US Representative 1 Brian Abrahamson 4,942 1.67%

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Callaghan, Peter (May 9, 2022). "Legalize Cannabis Party to police 'bogus' candidates". MinnPost.
  2. ^ a b Featherly, Kevin (August 3, 2018). "Weed backer hopes to smoke competition in AG race". Minnesota Lawyer.
  3. ^ Harvieux, Vincent (May 3, 2018). "Joint Ops: Why Minnesota has two pro-marijuana parties". Perfect Duluth Day.
  4. ^ a b c Pugmire, Tim (October 15, 2018). "Third party AG candidate throws support to DFLer Ellison". Minnesota Public Radio.
  5. ^ a b Van Berkel, Jessie (November 12, 2022). "One of Minnesota's marijuana parties loses major party status: The Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party failed to meet the required vote threshold, but some in the party are pleased". Star Tribune.
  6. ^ Winger, Richard (June 15, 2014). "Minnesota Candidate Filing Closes". Ballot Access News.
  7. ^ "Preaching Parking and Profiting: Life Just Outside the Minnesota State Fair". City Pages. August 31, 2017. We used to be called the Grassroots Party, now we're the Legal Marijuana Now Party
  8. ^ a b c "2014 MN Governor Election Results". Minnesota Secretary of State. November 4, 2014.
  9. ^ Featherly, Kevin (June 14, 2018). "Pro-pot AG candidate's got high hopes". Minnesota Lawyer.
  10. ^ Weniger, Deanna (September 21, 2018). "Ellison again denies abuse as ex-girlfriend's allegations aired during A.G. debate: The Third Man". Saint Paul Pioneer Press.
  11. ^ Minnesota Secretary of State (September 1984). "Minnesota Election Results 1984, p. 4" (PDF). Minnesota Legislative Reference Library.
  12. ^ Minnesota Secretary of State (November 1990). "Minnesota Election Results 1990, pp. 28-50" (PDF). Minnesota Legislative Reference Library.
  13. ^ Darn, John (May 12, 1972). "Violent Actions Reported Rising: Frustration Also Mounts as Students Clash with Police". The New York Times. The shooting in Madison occurred about 2:30 A.M., the police said, after hours of street fighting, when three policemen followed a car containing three students suspected of having planted Molotov cocktails near an insurance building. As the patrol car followed the car to the driveway of an apartment building at Dayton and Bedford Streets, eight shots were fired from the building, the police said. One policeman was wounded in the wrist, and the other two—including John Halford, who was hospitalized—were wounded in the shoulder. The police returned the fire and flushed five men out of the building with tear gas. A 22‐caliber and a .25‐caliber pistol were found. The man charged with three counts of attempted murder was identified as Oliver W. Steinberg, former undergraduate. The three occupants of the car were charged with conspiracy to commit arson. Bail for Mr. Steinberg was set at $55,000, and for the other three at $10,000. All are Madison residents.
  14. ^ a b "2020 Results for US Senator".
  15. ^ "2020 Primary Results for US Representative District 7".
  16. ^ a b "Moorhead congressional candidate says he was tricked into running by RNC". KVRR. May 24, 2021. Shores lost to primary opponent Rae Hart Anderson, who had run for office twice before as a Republican.
  17. ^ a b Bierschbach, Briana (May 12, 2022). "Pro-pot party ponders payback: New name proposed to turn tables on GOP over alleged '20 spoiler tactics". Star Tribune. "This kind of mischievous interference … it spoils it for the electorate and the people who in good faith go to the voting booth and perhaps aren't quite as well-informed as it would be good for them to be."
  18. ^ Van Berkel, Jessie (November 1, 2022). "Third-party candidates offer visions". Star Tribune.
  19. ^ Van Berkel, Jessie; Bierschbach, Briana (November 5, 2020). "Marijuana candidates shake up Minnesota races". Star Tribune.
  20. ^ Hertel, Nora G. (November 14, 2020). "Republican voters choose legal marijuana party candidates in tight legislative races". St. Cloud Times.
  21. ^ Lyden, Tom (May 23, 2021). "Grassroots or Astroturf? Congressional candidate says he was tricked into running by RNC strategist". KMSP-TV. Shores, who suffers from Gulf War Illness, used cannabis to get off pain killers. He told the FOX 9 Investigators he assumed he was being recruited by a member of the Grassroots Legalize Cannabis Party. ... Unknown to Shores, the man who called encouraging him to run was a Republican strategist, Kip Christianson, who at the time was on the payroll of the Republican National Committee, according to the Federal Election Commission. ... Shores said Christianson also paid the $300 filing fee ... Shores said he only learned Christianson was working for the Republican Party after the election. Christianson, a Harvard graduate from Monticello, has a resume that includes being a Trump delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, a treasurer for the Minnesota Young Republicans, and a candidate tracker for the MN Jobs Coalition. He also ran unsuccessfully for Minnesota Party Co-Chair. Christianson told the FOX 9 Investigators he never misrepresented himself as a member of the Grassroots Legalize Cannabis Party.
  22. ^ Fischenich, Mark (March 15, 2022). "1st District filing period closes with 19th, 20th candidates". Mankato Free Press.
  23. ^ Jaeger, Kyle (May 31, 2022). "Minnesota Democratic Operatives Accused Of Plotting To Change Marijuana Party Name To 'MAGA' Party To Siphon GOP Votes". Marijuana Moment.
  24. ^ a b Lopez, Ricardo (June 6, 2022). "To counter GOP meddling, some cannabis activists pushed effort to change party name". Minnesota Reformer. Steinberg said he was frustrated to have another candidate use the party's name for their own purposes.
  25. ^ Bierschbach, Briana (August 10, 2022). "Tim Walz, Scott Jensen easily win primary races, setting matchup for governor in fall: The candidates have been attacking each other for months in a race that's expected to draw national attention". Star Tribune.
  26. ^ "Minnesota Grassroots-Cannabis Party losing major political status". KMSP-TV. November 30, 2022.
  27. ^ Croman, John (January 26, 2023). "Minnesota Senate panel takes in marijuana bill: The Senate's Public Safety Committee heard testimony on recreational pot legislation for the first time". KARE-TV.
  28. ^ Steinberg, Oliver (May 14, 2023). "For Grassroots, future can wait. Victory is sweet. It's not about "what's next," it's about celebrating progress". Star Tribune.
  29. ^ Labovitch, William (November 27, 2022). "How Minnesota got to marijuana legalization politically". Star Tribune.
  30. ^ "MN Election Results".
  31. ^ "2020 Results for MN State Senator District 5".
  32. ^ "2020 Results for MN State Senator District 20".
  33. ^ "2020 Results for MN State Senator District 22".
  34. ^ "2020 Results for MN State Senator District 29".
  35. ^ "2020 Results for MN State Senator District 43".
  36. ^ "2020 Results for MN State Senator District 63".
  37. ^ "2020 Results for MN State Representative District 59A".
  38. ^ "MN Election Results".
  39. ^ "2020 Results for US Representative District 1".
  40. ^ "2020 Results for US Representative District 4".
  41. ^ "2020 Results for US Representative District 7".
  42. ^ "2020 Results for US Representative District 8".

External links[edit]