Legal Marijuana Now Party

Legal Marijuana Now Party
Chairperson Michael Ford
Founded 1998 (1998)
Headquarters 1835 Englewood Avenue
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55104
Newspaper Freedom Gazette
Ideology Marijuana legalization
Colors      Green
Seats in the Senate
0 / 100
Seats in the House
0 / 435
0 / 50
State Upper House Seats
0 / 1,972
State Lower House Seats
0 / 5,411

Legal Marijuana Now is a single-issue political party in the United States established in 1998 to oppose drug prohibition.[1] The party shares many of the political leftist values of the Green Party but with a greater emphasis on marijuana/hemp legalization issues.

The Legal Marijuana Now party is an offshoot the Grassroots Party.[2] And the organization traces its roots to the Youth International Party of the 1960s.

Legal Marijuana Now is currently active in the U.S. states of Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wyoming.

Single-issue political parties like Legal Marijuana Now exist to champion popular causes that are yet too controversial for elected public servants to embrace.[3] A primary goal of the Legal Marijuana Now Party, aside from getting pro-cannabis candidates into office, is to increase voter turnout in elections.[4]

Legal Marijuana Now embraces a broad range of issues. The Legal Marijuana Now Party is a social democratic party. Legal Marijuana Now is anti-war. And Legal Marijuana Now is pro-labor, and supports the rights of all minority groups.[5] The Legal Marijuana Now Party promotes wise environmental stewardship, and denounces corporate personhood. The Legal Marijuana Now Party is no more a single-issue political party than was the Minnesota Farmer–Labor Party.


United States Bill of Rights

The permanent platform of the Legal Marijuana Now party is the Bill of Rights.[6] Individual candidates' positions on issues vary from Libertarian to Green. All Legal Marijuana Now candidates would end marijuana/hemp prohibition, thus re-legalizing cannabis for all its uses.

Social democracy

The Legal Marijuana Now Party is a grassroots organization that derives its power from the people.[1]

Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders mobilized an army of followers and nearly secured the Democratic Party endorsement for President in 2016.

Like Sanders, Legal Marijuana Now Party is pro-labor, but more in line with the tenets of social democracy, like New Deal-era American progressivism.

Ecological democracy

The hemp plant provides multiple durable goods such as rope, fabric, industrial oil, and biofuel. Cannabis itself is food and medicine.[7]

In a thesis about unequal medical distribution resulting from prohibition of plant species, Dr. Sunil Aggarwal, M.D., wrote "These bans essentially amount to the legalized theft of nature from the global commons."[8]

According to Mark Elworth, Jr., the Legal Marijuana Now Party candidate for vice president in 2016, "Let's let farmers produce environmentally-friendly hemp again."


Marvelous Cannabis Leaf by Andy Schuler

Cannabis leaf

The official mascot of the Legal Marijuana Now party is the cannabis leaf.

Marvelous Cannabis Leaf is a personification of the mascot that was first drawn as part of the cartoon "Marijuana Legalization in Minnesota is Not Inevitable" on April 20, 2015, by artist and standup comedian Andy Schuler.


A panda wearing a cannabis-leaf shirt is an alternate mascot of the Legal Marijuana Now Party.


The party logo consists of a raised fist, superimposed with the cannabis leaf mascot and the name of the party, Legal Marijuana Now.


The official banner is the name of the party in white lettering, on an emerald green background. The letter 'O' in the word 'Now' on the banner is interwoven with a cannabis leaf.


The name of the party is from the popular chant, "What do we want?" "Legal marijuana." "When do we want it?" "Now!"[2]

Floyd Olson's Minnesota branch of the Farmer-Labor Party provided the inspiration to name Legal Marijuana Now so that the message is clear and easy to understand.

Cannabis is the Latin name for hemp

The cannabis plant is the same species as common hemp. Hemp is the name of the plant in English.[9] Varieties of cannabis that are bred for medicine traditionally were called Indian hemp by pharmacists.

The word marijuana was invented in Hearst's newspapers and was used by Harry Anslinger to stir up racist hysteria in order to gain public support for the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 which prohibited growing hemp for any of its many uses. Although the Tax Act was later ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court,[9] it was quickly replaced by Nixon's Controlled Substances Act which placed cannabis in Schedule II, continuing prohibition.

The name "marijuana" is disliked by many people in the cannabis culture because of the racist origin of the word. Most people today prefer to call the herb by its Latin name. Others in the community sometimes refer to marijuana by its sacramental names, for example a Rastafari word for cannabis is ganja.

However, the Yippies took ownership of the word marijuana.[10] And during the 1960s and 1970s era of Flower Power it was turned into a fighting word representing strength and solidarity.

Marijuana is more than a single issue

Cannabis is food and medicine. The hemp plant provides multiple durable goods such as rope, fabric, industrial oil, and biofuel.[7] Legalization would bring more jobs and money into the economy.

Prohibition endangers public safety by fostering corruption,[11] curtailing civil liberties, and perpetuating racism.[12]

Legal Marijuana Now is frequently pigeonholed as a single issue party. However cannabis is connected to so many other issues that legalization will ultimately impact everyone's life in a number of positive ways.


The Legal Marijuana Now Party pledge

Philosophy of the Legal Marijuana Now Party

"Herb is the healing of a nation. Alcohol is the destruction."

Bob Marley (1945-1981)

In loving memory

Brownie Mary

Brownie Mary (1922-1999)

Mary Jane "Brownie Mary" Rathbun (1922-1999) was raised and educated in Minneapolis, Minnesota.[13]

Brownie Mary was arrested three times for baking "magical brownies" using her Social Security to buy ingredients and cannabis that was donated, giving them away free to AIDS and cancer patients.

In California in 1992 before medical marijuana was legalized there, Mary was able to successfully defend herself in court, arguing that medical necessity outweighed the reprehensibleness of her actions.

In Minnesota today Mary Jane Rathbun would be denied a fair trial. Rathbun's lawyer would not be allowed to discuss medical need and no doctor would be allowed to testify.[14] The Legal Marijuana Now Party vows to fix the law in Minnesota.

Jack Herer

Jack Herer (1939-2010), author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes: Hemp & The Marijuana Conspiracy, was the Grassroots presidential candidate in 1988[15] and 1992.[16]

Structure and composition

Grassroots political movement

Grassroots movements and organizations use collective action from the local level to affect change at the local, regional, national, or international level. Grassroots movements are associated with bottom-up rather than top-down decision making.[17]

Grassroots political movements utilize a variety of strategies from fundraising and registering voters, to simply encouraging political conversation. Goals of specific movements vary, but the movements are consistent in their focus on increasing mass participation in politics. Grassroots political organizations derive their power from the people. The Legal Marijuana Now Party seeks to engage ordinary people in political discourse to the greatest extent possible.[4]


All decisions on important organizational and financial subjects must be reached by the leadership Head Council, which consists of Legal Marijuana Now Party members with at least three consecutive years participation in the party and Officers elected by the members at the annual convention held in January.[6]

State and local chapters

Legal Marijuana Now Party has state chapters in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska,[1] and Wyoming. And Congressional District chapters in Saint Paul and Omaha.

U.S. presidential candidates

In 2016, Legal Marijuana Now placed their presidential candidates on the ballot in two states, Iowa[18] and Minnesota.[19] And as a write-in candidate nationwide.

Legal Marijuana Now Party results in presidential elections

Year Candidate VP Candidate Ballot Access Popular Votes Percentage National Rank
Dan Vacek of Minnesota

Mark Elworth of Nebraska
IA, MN 13,546 0.01% 10th of 31[20]


Early History of Marijuana Political Parties Across the U.S.

Recent Marijuana Political Party News

Early History of the Legal Marijuana Now Party

In 1996 the Minnesota Grassroots Party split, forming the short-lived Independent Grassroots Party. John Birrenbach was the Independent Grassroots Presidential candidate in 1996[21] and Dan Vacek was the Independent Grassroots candidate for United States Representative, District 4, in 1996.

In 1998, members of the Independent Grassroots Party formed the Legal Marijuana Now political party.[1]

Legal Marijuana Now Party 1998 election results in Minnesota

Year Office Candidate Popular Votes Percentage
1998 United States Representative, District 4 Dan Vacek 5,839[25] 2.40%

Iowa history

Legal Marijuana Now Iowa placed their presidential candidates on the 2016 ballot by petitioning the state.[18] If the party receives two-percent of the vote in a statewide race they can claim minor party access in Iowa.

The Path to the Ballot in Iowa

Iowa does not allow voters to petition to put the law itself onto the ballot for a vote. The only petition the people can use in Iowa is to nominate independent and third party candidates for office. Legal Marijuana Now Iowa is organizing a petition drive to put candidates onto the ballot in 2018.

Minnesota history

From Political Principle to Political Party

In 2014, Dan Vacek ran for Minnesota Attorney General as the Legal Marijuana Now candidate and got 57,604 votes, qualifying the party to be officially recognized and to receive public funding from the state.[26][27]

Legal Marijuana Now Minnesota held its first meeting to convene and adopted a party constitution on November 26, 2014. Founding members Oliver Steinberg, Marty Super, and Dan Vacek comprised the organization's leadership council during its initial year.

The Legal Marijuana Now Party placed a candidate, Zach Phelps, on the ballot in the Minnesota State Senate District 35 Special Election, in February 2016.[1][2]

Legal Marijuana Now Party results in Minnesota state elections

Year Office Candidate Popular Votes Percentage
2014 Minnesota Attorney General Dan Vacek 57,604 2.99%[28]
2016 Minnesota State Senator, District 35 Zachary Phelps[2] 180 4.10%[29]
2016 Minnesota State Senator, District 60 Martin Super 8,861 21.78%

The Minnesota Constitution

According to Legal Marijuana Now Minnesota, the right to grow a garden is protected by the Minnesota Constitution.[30]

In the U.S. state of Minnesota, the permanent platform of the Legal Marijuana Now party includes Article I Section 1-17 of the Minnesota Constitution, known as the state Bill of Rights. And Article XIII Section 7, No License Required to Peddle,[6] guaranteeing the right to sell or peddle the products of the farm or garden.

Legal Marijuana Now Party results in federal elections in Minnesota

Year Office Candidate Popular Votes Percentage
2016 United States Representative, District 4 Susan Sindt 27,109 7.72%
2016 United States Representative, District 5 Dennis Schuller 30,759 8.50%

The Path to the Ballot in Minnesota

Minnesota does not allow voters to petition to put the law itself onto the ballot for a vote. The only petition the people can use in Minnesota is to nominate independent and third party candidates for office.

Legal Marijuana Now Minnesota is organizing a petition drive to put candidates onto the ballot in the 2018 election. In Minnesota, there is a two week petitioning period in May, 2018. If there is a special election meanwhile, the petitioning window for a special election is only one week in length.

Only the Legislature can place a referendum on the Minnesota ballot. The Minnesota Legal Marijuana Now Party and other state legalization organizations are lobbying the Legislature to give the people of Minnesota a chance to vote for cannabis in 2018.

The proposed ballot wording is "Shall Art. XIII, Sec. 7, be amended to authorize the licensing of cultivation or sales of Cannabis by persons in Minnesota, but not by corporations?"

Nebraska history

Legal Marijuana Now Nebraska is petitioning to be recognized as a major political party.[4] That earns candidates inclusion in the official state voters guide.

The Path to the Ballot in Nebraska

To make the ballot, Legal Marijuana Now Party must have valid signatures equal to at least 1 percent of the total votes cast for governor in 2014, or 5,397 signatures statewide. The party also must have a certain number of signatures from each of the state's three congressional districts.[4]

In July, 2016, volunteers turned in 9,000 signatures to the Nebraska Secretary of State. The competent, experienced petitioners expected that some of the signatures would not be counted. However, the Secretary of State claimed that half of the signatures were invalid, denying the party ballot access for 2016.[31]

In Nebraska, voters can petition to put the law itself onto the ballot for a vote. Legal Marijuana Now Party organizer Mark Elworth is circulating a new petition to secure ballot access for the party.[32] And, at the same time, Nebraska Legal Marijuana Now is petitioning to put an initiative to decriminalize non-medical cannabis onto the statewide ballot in 2018.

Wyoming history

Marijuana Now Wyoming is organizing a petition drive to become a recognized political party in the state of Wyoming.


Freedom Gazette Number 2, January–March 2016

Freedom Gazette

Minnesota Legal Marijuana Now Party's e-newsletter, Freedom Gazette, is published quarterly. The Freedom Gazette is currently edited by Dan Vacek.

The Weed

The Minnesota Weed newsletter is produced independently by Legal Marijuana Now Party co-founder Oliver Steinberg. The Weed newsletter was originally conceived in 1982 as a publication of the Minnesota chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. The Weed currently is published to promote campaigns of candidates from all parties who support the rights of people who consume cannabis, including the Legal Marijuana Now Party, the Democratic and Republican major parties, the Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party, the Green Party, and the Libertarian Party.

Legal Marijuana Now Party in the news


Critics of the Legal Marijuana Now Party either apologize for the harms of prohibition and argue that personal use of cannabis should remain banned.[33]

Or Legal Marijuana Now Party critics, whether pro-cannabis or not, argue that involvement in third parties, contrary to the intended goal of increasing voter-participation, steals votes from either progressive or libertarian candidates in important elections. And a common criticism of third parties is that their candidates almost never win.[34]

However, the latter has proven false, with minor party candidates being elected across the United States from time to time,[3] such as Bernie Sanders who was elected to U.S. Congress in 1990 as a Socialist,[35] or Reform Party candidate Jesse Ventura who was elected Governor of Minnesota, in 1998, in tight three-way race.

See also


The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2010) by Michelle Alexander

Drug War Crimes: The Consequences of Prohibition (2004) by Jeffrey Miron






  1. 1 2 3 4 Gettman, Jon (February 9, 2016). "Pot Matters: Minnesota Maverick Pushes Legalization Platform in Special Election". High Times.
  2. 1 2 Steinberg, Oliver (October 3, 2016). "Third- or even fourth-party candidates can play key roles". Star Tribune.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Stoddard, Martha (July 23, 2016). "Marijuana party seeks spot on ballot for presidential race". Omaha World-Herald.
  4. Gemma, Peter B. (October 19, 2016). "Interview with Dan Vacek, Legal Marijuana Now Presidential Nominee". Independent Political Report.
  5. 1 2 Herer, Jack (1985). The Emperor Wears No Clothes: Hemp & The Marijuana Conspiracy (11th ed.). Van Nuys, CA: Ah Ha Publishing. ISBN 0-9524560-0-1.
  6. Aggarwal, Sunil, University of Washington (March 30, 2007). "The political ecology of medical marijuana germplasm and delivery" (PDF).
  7. 1 2 Kriho, Laura (October 31, 2013). "Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 rises from the dead". Boulder Weekly.
  8. 1 2 Reston, James Jr. (1991). "Collision at Home Plate: The Lives of Pete Rose and Bart Giamatti, p. 78". University of Nebraska Press.
  9. Carpenter, Dick M. II Ph.D., Institute for Justice (November 2015). "Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture (2nd ed.)" (PDF).
  10. Alexander, Michelle (2010). The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York: The New Press. ISBN 978-1-59558-103-7.
  11. Goldberg, Carey (July 6, 1996). "'Brownie Mary' Fights to Legalize Marijuana". The New York Times.
  12. Court of Appeals of Minnesota (April 9, 1991). "State v. Hanson, 1991, Court of Appeals Decisions".
  13. 1 2 Minnesota Secretary of State (November 1988). "Minnesota Election Results 1988, p. 18" (PDF). Minnesota Legislative Reference Library.
  14. 1 2 Klein, Patricia A. (June 1993). "Federal Elections 92: Election Results for the U.S. President, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, p. 9" (PDF). Federal Election Commission.
  15. Gove, Philip (1993). Webster's Third International Dictionary (3rd ed.). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster Inc. p. 991. ISBN 0-87779-201-1.
  16. 1 2 Hanson, Alex (August 25, 2016). "Weekly politics wrap-up: Ballot access in Iowa". Iowa State Daily.
  17. Stassen-Berger, Rachel E. (August 24, 2016). "Don't like Trump or Clinton? You have choices". Pioneer Press.
  18. Wachtler, Mark (November 15, 2016). "2016 Presidential Vote Totals for all 31 Candidates". Opposition News.
  19. 1 2 Bickford, Bob (October 7, 1998). "1996 Presidential Election Results by State". Ballot Access News.
  20. "2000 Official Presidential General Election Results". Federal Election Commission. December 2001.
  21. Worth, Robert (November 7, 2002). "The 2002 Elections: Smaller Parties". The New York Times.
  22. Winger, Richard (June 15, 2014). "Minnesota Candidate Filing Closes". Ballot Access News.
  23. Minnesota Secretary of State (November 1998). "Minnesota Election Results 1998, p. 43" (PDF). Minnesota Legislative Reference Library.
  24. "Minnesota's major & minor political parties: Secretary of State". Minnesota Secretary of State.
  25. Associated Press (December 31, 2014). "Independence Party demoted to minor-party status".
  26. "2014 Election Results Minnesota Attorney General". Minnesota Secretary of State. November 2014.
  27. "2016 Results Minnesota Special Election". Minnesota Secretary of State. February 2016.
  28. "Weg met Trump en Clinton, stem Legal Marijuana Now!". Rolling Stoned. October 19, 2016.
  29. Associated Press (August 5, 2016). "Marijuana Party petition drive fails to result in ballot placement". Lincoln Journal Star.
  30. Pluhacek, Zach (September 14, 2016). "Marijuana groups already petitioning for 2018 ballot". Lincoln Journal Star.
  31. Edenloff, Al (October 5, 2016). "Senate District 8 candidates have little in common". Echo Press.
  32. Blow, Charles M. (September 22, 2016). "The Folly of the Protest Vote". The New York Times.
  33. Daly, Christopher B. (November 11, 1990). "For Vermont's Sanders, Victory Followed Long Path; First Socialist Elected to House in Decades Gets Attention With Frank Talk of Class Conflict". The Washington Post.
  34. "Review: The New Jim Crow-Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness". Publishers Weekly. November 2, 2009.
  35. Leef, George C. (July 9, 2010). "Review: Drug War Crimes-The Consequences of Prohibition". Foundation for Economic Education.

External links

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