Grassroots Party

Grassroots Party
Founded 1986 (1986)
Ideology Marijuana legalization
Colors Green
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House of Representatives
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U.S. Senate
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U.S. House of Representatives
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The Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party is a single-issue political party in the U.S. state of Minnesota. It was created in 1986 to oppose drug prohibition. The party shares many of the political leftist values of the Green Party of the United States but with a greater emphasis on marijuana/hemp legalization issues.

Other Grassroots parties have previously operated in the U.S. states of Iowa and Vermont, but are no longer active.


United States Bill of Rights

The permanent platform of the Grassroots Party is the Bill of Rights. Individual candidates' positions on issues vary from Libertarian to Green. All Grassroots candidates would end marijuana/hemp prohibition, thus re-legalizing cannabis for all its uses.


Early History

The Grassroots Party was established in Minnesota in 1986, by Derrick Grimmer, Tim Davis, Chris Wright and Oliver Steinberg, as an independent political party that focused on marijuana legalization. Derrick Grimmer, Ph.D., ran for Minnesota Attorney General in 1986. He received 16,394 votes.

The Grassroots Party of Minnesota (GRP) ran a full slate of statewide candidates in 1990, 1992 and 1994, and won more votes than all other third parties in Minnesota combined.

In 1990, Ross S. Culverhouse, a computer programmer and Vietnam veteran was the Grassroots gubernatorial candidate. Culverhouse received 17,176 votes. Will Shetterly, a science-fiction writer and actor, ran for governor of Minnesota in 1994. He placed third out of six candidates.[1]

Russell Bentley, a party candidate for US Senate in 1990 and US Congress in 1992 and GRP board member, was arrested on marijuana smuggling charges in 1996. Bentley was sentenced to five years in federal prison.

In 2000, the party nominated David Daniels, an African American playwright/performance artist from Minneapolis, as candidate for the United States Senate. Daniels did not have a serious campaign budget and was only invited to speak at some events sponsored by Minnesota Public Radio. On election day, Daniels received 21,447 votes (0.89%).[2]

In 2002, Grassroots Party co-founder and candidate, Tim Davis, joined the Green Party. Davis returned to the Grassroots Party and ran for United States Senator in 2012.

Results in Minnesota state elections 1986-1998

Year Office Candidate Popular Votes Percentage
1986 MN Attorney General Derrick Grimmer 16,394 1.17%
1990 MN Governor Ross S. Culverhouse 17,176 0.96%
1990 MN Treasurer Colleen Bonniwell 84,919 4.94%
1994 MN Governor Will Shetterly 20,785 1.20%
1994 MN Secretary of State Dale D. Wilkinson 54,009 3.12%
1994 MN Attorney General Dean W. Amundson 69,776 4.17%
1994 MN Auditor Steven C. Anderson 80,811 4.79%
1994 MN Treasurer Colleen Bonniwell 84,486 5.20%
1996 MN Senator 62 Steven C. Anderson 2,032 6.63%
1998 MN Governor Chris Wright 1,727 0.10%
1998 MN Representative 59A Dale D. Wilkinson 1,270 9.66%

Results in federal elections 1988-2000

Year Office Candidate Popular Votes Percentage
1988 US Senator Derrick Grimmer 9,016 0.43%
1988 US Representative 5 Chris Wright 6,468 2.68%
1990 US Senator Russell Bentley 29,820 1.65%
1992 US Representative 3 Dwight Fellman 9,164 2.91%
1992 US Representative 4 Dan R. Vacek 4,418 1.59%
1992 US Representative 5 Russell Bentley 6,786 2.24%
1994 US Senator Candice Sjostrom 15,920 0.90%
1994 US Representative 4 Dan R. Vacek 6,211 2.94%
1996 US Senator Tim Davis 14,139 0.65%
1996 US Representative 4 Phil Willkie 3,615 1.41%
1996 US Representative 5 Erika Anderson 13,102 5.33%
2000 US Senator David Daniels 21,447[2] 0.89%[2]

The Independent Grassroots Party

In Minnesota in 1996 the Grassroots Party split, with some of its members choosing not to attend the Grassroots Party Nominating Convention, including founding member Oliver Steinberg, forming the short-lived Independent Grassroots party. John Birrenbach was the Independent Grassroots Presidential candidate in 1996[3] and Dan Vacek was the Independent Grassroots candidate for US Representative (MN District 4). Shortly after, members of the Independent Grassroots Party established the Legal Marijuana Now political party, which continues to be active in cannabis law reform.


The Legalize Cannabis political party

In 2010, Grassroots candidate Chris Wright was on the ballot in the governor's election, signifying the possibility of the minor political party being re-organized. In 2012, Wright ran for Vice-President of the United States as a Grassroots Party candidate.

In 2014, Grassroots Party of Minnesota changed its name to Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party. In the 2014 race for Governor, Chris Wright received 31,259 votes.[4] The party also ran a candidate for State Auditor, in 2014, who received 55,132 votes.

Results in Minnesota state elections

Year Office Candidate Popular Votes Percentage
2010 MN Governor Chris Wright 7,516 0.36%
2014 MN Auditor Judith Schwartzbacker 55,132 2.87%
2014 MN Governor Chris Wright 31,259[4] 1.58%

Results in federal elections

Year Office Candidate Popular Votes Percentage
2012 US Senator Tim Davis 30,532 1.07%


Derrick Grimmer, Ph.D., a founding member of the Grassroots Party, moved from Minnesota to Iowa in 1988 and formed the Grassroots Party of Iowa. Grimmer ran for Iowa State Treasurer in 1990 and received 15,745 votes and he ran for U.S. House of Representatives (IA District 3) in 1994 and received 2,282 votes.


The Grassroots Party of Vermont formed in 1994. In 1994, Vermont Grassroots Party (VGP) ran candidates for U.S Senate, U.S. Representative, auditor of accounts, and attorney general.

In 1996 VGP ran another slate of candidates including governor, lieutenant governor, U.S. representative, attorney general, auditor of accounts, state treasurer, and secretary of state.

Three VGP candidates won five percent or more of the popular vote in the 1996 election, qualifying the Grassroots Party for permanent "major party" status in Vermont.

In 1998 VGP ran a slate of candidates including gubernatorial candidate Joel Williams who received 3,305 votes (1.5%) and U.S. Senate candidate Bob Melamede who received 2,459 votes (1.1%). Matthew Mulligan received 3,464 votes (1.6%) for U.S. Representative; Randy Bushey got 12,312 votes (6%) for State Treasurer; Steven Saetta got 6,345 votes (3%) for Auditor of Accounts; Dennis "Denny" Lane received 8,347 votes (3.9%) for Secretary of State and Sandy "Wells" Ward got 17,954 votes (8.8%) for Attorney General.

In 2000 the Vermont Grassroots Party ran a slate of candidates with Sandy "Wells" Ward leading the ticket as candidate for Attorney General, receiving 38,713 votes, or 14.7% of the popular vote.

Again in 2002 the VGP fielded a full statewide ticket, and this time Teresa Bouchard led the way as candidate for State Treasurer with 10,757 votes (4.8%). In 2002 one of the state leaders, Joel Williams, became a member of the Libertarian Party of Vermont.

While the VGP failed to win any elections, the party continued to nominate a slate of candidates for state office, and most of the candidates received one percent or more of the popular vote. The Grassroots Party of Vermont fielded candidates representing a mixture of liberal and libertarian views; The VGP dissolved in 2004, the membership spread out among Vermont's political scene.


The Grassroots Party of California was formed in 2014 by former members of the Vermont Grassroots Party that moved to California. In 2015 the California Grassroots Party (CGP) nominated political / social sciences author Marvin Sotelo to run for the U.S. House of Representatives (California's 40th congressional district) leading the ticket as a candidate for congressman making way for the 2016 elections. The Grassroots Party will run a slate of candidates in 2016 for several offices, including governor, U.S Senate, city council, auditor of accounts, and attorney general.


The Canvas, Winter 1994

The Canvas

The Canvas, the newsletter of the Grassroots Party of Minnesota, was published quarterly from 1991 until 1998. It reached a circulation of 5,000 printed copies.

The name of The Canvas was inspired by Webster's Dictionary definition of the word, which literally means "hempen."

The Canvas newsletter was designed and edited by Dan Vacek (from 1992 to 1993 it was co-edited by Roger Gibian). In 1994, Will Shetterly edited and produced The Canvas for several issues. And later, at the end of its run, the newsletter was edited by Steven Anderson.

The Weed

The Minnesota Weed is an unofficial publication produced by Grassroots Party co-founder Oliver Steinberg, originally as the newsletter of the Minnesota chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and later for the Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party. The Weed is still being published today.

U.S. Presidential candidates

Jack Herer ran as the Grassroots Party candidate for U.S. President in 1988 and 1992 . In 1996 the Grassroots Party of Minnesota nominated Dennis Peron, its first presidential nominee, in the presidential election. In 2000, the Grassroots Party of Vermont nominated Denny Lane as its presidential candidate. In 2012, the Grassroots Party nominated Minnesota businessman Jim Carlson as its presidential candidate.[5][6]

Results in presidential elections

Year Candidate State(s) on the Ballot Popular Votes Percentage
1988 Jack Herer MN 1,949 0.00%
1992 Jack Herer MN, IA 3,875 0.00%
1996 Dennis Peron MN, VT[7] 5,378[7] 0.01%
2000 Denny Lane VT 1,044 0.00%
2012 Jim Carlson MN 3,149 0.00%


External links

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