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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published August 13 2012

Owner of Duluth's Last Place on Earth running for president

ST. PAUL - The owner of a Duluth store that police have targeted for allegedly selling synthetic drugs is running for president.

The Grassroots Party, which mostly supports legalizing marijuana, Monday filed paperwork to place Jim Carlson’s name on the Minnesota ballot.

Grassroots officials said they presented more than 2,700 signatures on a petition to the Minnesota secretary of state’s office. If the signatures are validated, Carlson will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.

His vice presidential candidate is George McMahon, a Livermore, Iowa, resident who has testified at Minnesota legislative hearings in favor of legalizing marijuana. He was the Independent Grassroots Party vice presidential candidate in 1996.

A flier handed out by Grassroots officials, featuring marijuana leaves inside a map outline of the state, says about Carlson: “Witch-hunting politicians are trying to wipe out his business. Mr. Carlson is fighting back.”

Also filing for office Monday was the Socialist Workers Party president-vice president ticket of James Harris and Maura DeLuca.

While Republican, Democratic-Farmer Labor and Independence parties have easier access to the ballot because of voter support in past elections, minor parties must file petitions with at least 2,000 names to have presidential candidates listed.

Minnesota voters several times have seen nearly a dozen presidential candidates on their ballots. The Socialist Workers Party has been included since 1948.

A Grassroots release indicates that Carlson did not seek the presidential nomination, but “he accepted a draft from Grassroots Party activists.”

Since he announced his candidacy, federal agents raided his store and Duluth officials filed a public nuisance charge against him.

Last week, Duluth served a “notice of public nuisance” on the Last Place on Earth and Carlson. It alleged that Carlson unlawfully sold synthetic drugs, but no criminal charges have been filed.

Carlson denied selling illegal drugs.

The Grassroots Party news release about the Carlson candidacy says that the public is more willing than politicians to legalize marijuana. It says a traditional role of minor parities is to “test drive” controversial changes, such as the marijuana question.

Another Grassroots member, Tim Davis, is running for U.S. Senate. For the Socialist Workers Party, Frank Forrestal is running for Senate.