Promoting his line of edibles, former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura says cannabis saved his family

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MOORHEAD, Minn. — He stepped out of the car in the parking lot, looking less like a politician and more like a dad running weekend errands. But even wearing a baseball cap, sneakers and a fanny pack, former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura knew how to command an audience.

Close to 100 people lined up to meet Ventura at Unwind, a Moorhead store specializing in THC and CBD products.

People came out to meet former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura at Unwind Minnesota, a family-owned THC & CBD store in Moorhead, Minn., on Saturday, June 1, 2024. Ventura was there to promote Jesse Ventura Farms, a cannabis business. (Chris Flynn / Forum News Service)

Ventura, who served as governor from 1999 to 2003, launched his own brand of cannabis edibles this spring. He partnered with Twin Cities-based Retro Bakery, which produces hemp-derived THC edibles under the Jesse Ventura Farms brand.

The products, which include chocolate bars and gummies, are now available at Unwind and other outlets in the state.

It’s been a long time coming for Ventura, who first fought for marijuana legalization during his time in office. He said, fortunately, the issue “stayed on the burner and kept smoldering.”

He said he’ll never forget last summer when Gov. Tim Walz handed him the pen he used to sign to legalize and decriminalize cannabis.

“I was very proud to be able, 25 years later, to see something that I always knew should happen, happen,” he said.

‘It was a lifesaver’

Former Minn. Governor Jesse Ventura shakes the hand of Theresa Sorenson, owner of Unwind, 3505 8th St. S. in Moorhead, Minn., where he promoted his cannabis edibles Saturday, June 1, 2024. (Tracy Briggs / Forum News Service)

Ventura’s support for cannabis legalization comes from a very personal place.

At a recent Senate hearing and again at the store, Ventura shared the story of how his wife of nearly 50 years, Terry, suffered terrible seizures. After being put on four different seizure medications, nothing worked. So, they planned a trip to Colorado, where recreational marijuana was legal.

He said after three drops of a THC tincture under her tongue, she has never had another seizure.

“If it weren’t for cannabis, I wouldn’t be standing here today. It was a lifesaver for me and my family,” he said.

Fans lined up

Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura visits with fans at Unwind Minnesota, a family-owned THC and CBD store in Moorhead, to promote Jesse Ventura Farms, a cannabis business, Saturday, June 1, 2024. (Chris Flynn / Forum News Service)

Many of those who came out to see the former professional wrestler, actor and controversial governor called themselves fans, like Melissa Niecko, who recently moved to Moorhead from Texas and hoped to reconnect with the governor.

“I met him 25 years ago. It was at a marine ball. I was in the Navy, and we met in San Diego, and I just want to see if he remembers me,” she said with a laugh.

While Niecko said she’s never tried Ventura’s products, she planned to give them a try.

That was an understatement for another Ventura fan here today.

“I bought everything — the whole line,” said a woman named Tammy, who declined to give her last name.

She said she always liked Ventura because he was never a professional politician.

“I like his attitude. He’s so real. I wish he would run for president,” she said.

But the products also brought her out. Tammy is an Air Force veteran who said she suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and cannabis products have eased her stress and helped her sleep.


Many fans had former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura autograph their products, including this dark chocolate bar, Saturday, June 1, 2024. (Tracy Briggs / Forum News Service)

It’s an endorsement Unwind’s owner Theresa Sorenson has heard repeatedly.

“We have a lot of military people come in, and they don’t want to take the prescription drugs anymore. They want something more natural. And actually, cannabis is a natural plant. It’s not made from chemicals,” Sorenson said.

She said she heard about Ventura’s tour around the state just last week and was excited to have him in Moorhead to help educate people about the products that are so new to Minnesota.

She said their staff has been taking courses to learn about different varieties and products and how they might affect customers and their ailments.

“I don’t want my salespeople saying, ‘I’m just here to sell to you.’ I want them to feel like they’re getting a product that will help them,” she said. “You can’t always trust what you get on the streets, and so I want a safe place for people to come where products are state-compliant. It’s safe. It’s not treated with anything else. You’re going to get the real deal here.”

After Ventura’s appearance, that includes the former governor’s chocolate bars and gummies, which come in flavors like bubblegum, strawberry and berry gelato.

Hitting the road

Alex Kuchta holds a 1986 LJN Jesse the Body Ventura WWF Wrestling Superstars action figure that Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura signed for him when he met with fans at Unwind Minnesota, a family-owned THC & CBD store in Moorhead, Minn., to promote Jesse Ventura Farms, a cannabis business, on Saturday, June 1, 2024. (Chris Flynn / Forum News Service)

After taking photos with fans, Ventura signed product packages and even a few action figures.

He’s taking this show on the road all over Minnesota. He also visited Breckenridge, Minn., earlier Saturday and planned a stop at Moorhead’s Junkyard Brewing after his stop at Unwind.

He was also scheduled to make more appearances around the Twin Cities metro area on Sunday.

Ventura, an often colorful and controversial public figure for decades, told the crowd in Moorhead that even though he gets asked to make appearances elsewhere, these will be the only ones he’ll continue to do. That’s how strongly he feels about cannabis.

“I don’t want anybody’s family to have to go through what we went through,” he said. “Now, we just need to get the Dakotas on board with us.”

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