Lawsuit accuses chief marijuana lobbying group of defaming critics 

The lawsuit claims the defamation “increased and intensified” after the owners stopped making donations to MN is Ready.

A lawsuit filed this week accuses MN is Ready, the leading organization lobbying for marijuana legalization in the state, of defaming the owners of two hemp businesses. (Shutterstock)

A lawsuit filed this week accuses MN is Ready, the leading organization lobbying for marijuana legalization in the state, of defaming the owners of two hemp businesses.

The lawsuit claims the defamation “increased and intensified” after the owners stopped making donations to MN is Ready, whose campaign chair is former House majority leader Ryan Winkler.

The complaint was filed by Nothing But Hemp owner Steven Brown and Plift co-owner Glenn McElfresh, who both sell hemp-based consumable products.

The lawsuit claims numerous false statements were made about the plaintiffs “at the urging or with the encouragement of directors, employees or persons affiliated with MN is Ready.”

These statements accused the plaintiffs of orchestrating a “baseless fraud campaign,” “treating women badly,” “deceiving the general public,” and more.

The lawsuit says this conduct was intended to have a “detrimental effect” on the plaintiffs and their business activities and seeks no less than $50,000 in damages.

“This lawsuit is exactly what it appears to be — a desperate political attack to try to stop adult-use legalization from passing by two of its most vocal opponents. Tomorrow, we will pass adult-use legalization in the Minnesota Senate and, in a few weeks, Governor Walz will sign it into law. After that, we look forward to fully litigating this frivolous public relations stunt,” MN is Ready told Alpha News in a statement Thursday.

McElfresh spoke at a press conference earlier this month alongside other hemp-based business owners who support legalization but have concerns with HF100, a bill to legalize adult-use cannabis in Minnesota. They said the bill favors big businesses over small Minnesota-based companies.

The bill passed the Minnesota House Tuesday and will be debated in the Senate Friday.

“This bill is a bit of a train wreck,” Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks, said during a Friday press conference.

Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, the GOP lead on the bill, said the legislation is “just not ready.”

“There are many reasons for that. Public safety is number one,” she said. “We don’t have a reliable road test … for driving under the influence of cannabis.”

Nelson said legislators were under the impression that the bill wasn’t going to come to the floor for a vote until next session.

“I’m surprised that it’s being pushed so prematurely,” she said.

Gov. Tim Walz has promised to sign the legislation. If it passes the Senate Friday, it will take effect Aug. 1.

 

Anthony Gockowski

Anthony Gockowski is Editor-in-Chief of Alpha News. He previously worked as an editor for The Minnesota Sun and Campus Reform, and reported for The Daily Caller.