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Is Weed Legal in Minnesota? (April 2024)

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Yes, Minnesota became the 23rd state to fully legalize marijuana on August 1st 2023. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz  officially ratified a comprehensive, 321-page legislation, legalizing marijuana in the state. This monumental decision came after months of rigorous deliberations within the Legislature.

The enactment of this cannabis legislation reflects the culmination of sustained debates and discussions, signaling a significant turning point in Minnesota's approach to cannabis regulation. By legalizing marijuana, the state is poised to undergo transformative shifts in various aspects.

Legal Age Limit

The law legalizes the possession and use of marijuana for individuals aged 21 and older. This major shift in policy signifies the state's commitment to a regulated and responsible recreational market.

Establishment of the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM)

The legislation introduces the creation of the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), a state agency tasked with overseeing cannabis and hemp businesses. The OCM will regulate the recreational market, in addition to the existing medical cannabis and hemp-derived markets, by issuing licenses and enforcing regulations.

Expungement and Cannabis Expungement Board

One of the law's key components mandates the expungement of misdemeanor marijuana offenses. Additionally, the legislation establishes a Cannabis Expungement Board responsible for reviewing felony offenses on a case-by-case basis to determine eligibility for expungement.

Hemp-Based THC Products

The new law introduces regulations for hemp-based THC drinks and edibles, which surged in popularity after their legalization last year. The law aims to ensure the responsible production and sale of these products.

While various aspects of the law went into effect on July 1, the lifting of criminal penalties for adult possession, use, and home cultivation of marijuana will occur on August 1. This date is pivotal in the context of cannabis legalization.

Can You Buy Weed in Minnesota?

Yes, adults above 21 years can now buy weed legally in Minnesota. Although legal retail sales may not commence until early 2025, the Red Lake Nation has chosen to allow recreational marijuana dispensaries on tribal land starting from August 1. Similarly, the White Lake Nation is expected to permit retail sales to non-tribal members in August. Changes to the state's medical cannabis program, as outlined in the law, will become effective on March 1, 2025.

Authorized Cannabis Products

The legislation authorizes the production and sale of various cannabis products, including flower, concentrates, topicals, edibles (such as candies and beverages), as well as immature cannabis plants, seeds, and hemp-derived THC products.

Possession Limits

From August 1, individuals aged 21 and older can possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis flower, up to 8 grams of cannabis concentrates, and edible cannabis products containing up to a total of 800 milligrams of THC. Home possession limits allow for up to 2 pounds of marijuana.

Can Visitors Buy Weed in Minnesota?

Nonresidents with valid IDs indicating they are 21 or older can purchase cannabis products without additional restrictions. However, carrying legally purchased cannabis across state lines remains a federal crime.

Usage Restrictions and Consumption Locations

The law allows marijuana use for individuals aged 21 and above in private residences, private property inaccessible to the public (with owner permission), and on licensed business or event premises. Smoking within multifamily housing buildings, except for registered medical cannabis patients, will be prohibited starting in 2025. Smoking is also allowed outside in areas not prohibited by the state's Clean Indoor Air Act.

As Minnesota embarks on this transformative journey, stakeholders, residents, and visitors are urged to familiarize themselves with the specifics of the law to ensure compliance and informed participation in the evolving cannabis landscape.

Where is Cannabis Consumption Restricted?

Minnesota's recently enacted recreational marijuana legislation brings forth a detailed regulatory framework. Here is an overview of where consumption is prohibited, home cultivation rights, product testing, licensing categories, and the evolving landscape:

Consumption Restrictions

  • Consumption of marijuana in any form is prohibited in motor vehicles, on school premises, and within state correctional facilities.
  • Owners of child day care programs must inform parents or guardians if employees are allowed to consume cannabis products on the premises outside of operational hours.

Can You Grow Weed at Home in Minnesota?

Starting August 1, individuals aged 21 and above can grow up to eight cannabis plants per residence. Among these, a maximum of four plants can be mature and flowering simultaneously. The plants can be grown indoors or outdoors, but they must be kept in an enclosed, locked space that is not accessible to the public.

Can You Sell Seeds and Immature Plants?

Licensed retailers are authorized to  sell seedlings and immature plants for at-home cultivation. However, there is no provision for the sale or gifting of seeds. Hemp seeds for industrial purposes (with less than 0.3% THC) are differentiated from cannabis seeds for marijuana growth.

Driving Under the Influence

The law allocates funding for drug recognition training for law enforcement and requires the state's public safety commissioner to explore an oral fluid roadside test for cannabis impairment. The Office of Cannabis Management will conduct a study on impaired driving, analyzing crash data, arrests, convictions, and other factors.

Get a Marijuana License in Minnesota

Cities, counties, and the Office of Cannabis Management will license and enforce cannabis businesses. The OCM, headed by a director appointed by the governor, will have oversight with the guidance of a diverse advisory council. The Minnesota Department of Health oversees medical marijuana and hemp-derived THC edibles and drinks until 2025. The Minnesota Board of Pharmacy's role in regulating these products has ceased.

State-licensed testing facilities must test batches of marijuana and cannabis products. Maximum allowable levels of various contaminants are set by the OCM. Test results must indicate cannabinoid content.

Licensing Categories

The legislation establishes 15 types of licenses

  • Cannabis cultivator
  • Cannabis manufacturer
  • Cannabis retailer
  • Cannabis microbusiness
  • Cannabis mezzobusiness
  • Cannabis wholesaler
  • Cannabis transporter
  • Cannabis delivery service
  • Cannabis event organizer
  • Medical cannabis cultivator, processor, retailer, and combination business

The law encompasses a broad spectrum of regulatory elements, reflecting Minnesota's commitment to a controlled and safe recreational cannabis market. As the state continues to navigate this evolving landscape, stakeholders and residents are encouraged to remain informed about the law's nuances and implications.

Local Control and Governance

  • Local governments cannot ban cannabis businesses entirely. However, they can limit the number of cannabis retailers to one per 12,500 residents.
  • Counties meeting the one retailer per 12,500 residents threshold exempt individual cities or towns from mandating a cannabis business.

Tribal Governance

  • Tribal governments have the flexibility to establish their own rules for both medical and recreational marijuana. A negotiation process is outlined to address jurisdictional matters with the state.

Cannabis Packaging Requirements in Minnesota

  • Cannabis product packaging must be child-resistant, tamper-evident, and opaque.
  • Edible packaging must be resealable and FDA-approved for food packaging.
  • Packaging materials cannot contain PFAS chemicals. Hemp-derived lower potency beverages may not require child-resistant packaging.

Cannabis Advertising Regulations

  • Advertising options for cannabis businesses are limited. Outdoor advertising is prohibited for all cannabis businesses.
  • Hemp businesses can advertise outdoors but not for low-potency hemp edibles.
  • Cannabis and hemp advertising in media where 30% or more of the audience is under 21 is prohibited.
  • Online pop-up ads are not allowed, but direct communication and location-based mobile ads can be used if recipients are verified to be 21 or older.

Cannabis Taxation in Minnesota

  • A 10% tax rate is imposed on cannabis product sales, excluding medical cannabis program products.
  • Application and license fees generate revenue:
    • Cultivators: $10,000 application, $20,000 initial license, $30,000 renewal.
    • Manufacturers: $10,000 application and initial license, $20,000 renewal.
    • Retailers: $2,500 application and initial license, $5,000 renewal.
    • Microbusinesses: No initial license fee, $500 application, $2,000 renewal.
  • Local governments cannot impose sales tax solely on cannabis products.

Projected Tax Revenue and Allocation

  • By FY 2027, the Department of Revenue estimates $107 million in annual state tax revenue and $21.5 million for local governments.
  • Tax revenue is distributed:
    • One-fifth to local governments.
    • State agencies for industry oversight, law enforcement, and grants.
  • Expenditures from FY 2026:
    • $19 million for Department of Health programs.
    • $15 million for “cannabis industry community renewal” grants.
    • $10.8 million for the Department of Public Safety.
    • $3.25 million for the University of Minnesota's Center for Cannabis Research.
    • Remaining revenue to the state's general fund.

Expungement of Marijuana Related Crimes

As Minnesota prepares to enact the new cannabis legislation, over 60,000 misdemeanor marijuana cases are on track for automatic expungement. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) projects that this initiative will encompass cases in which defendants achieved victory or dismissal, effectively erasing the entire history of these offenses from the point of arrest to sentencing. The BCA has informed legislators that the expungement process might take up to a year to conclude, ensuring the comprehensive removal of all misdemeanor records.

Social Equity Provisions

  • A Division of Social Equity is established within the Office of Cannabis Management to offer support and services to communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition.
  • “Social equity applicants” receive higher priority for cannabis business licenses and qualify for special grants.
  • Eligible applicants include those with prior marijuana convictions, family members of convicts, veterans affected by marijuana offenses, residents of disproportionately targeted neighborhoods, and underrepresented community farmers.

Medical Cannabis Program Changes

  • Significant changes are slated for March 1, 2025, when the Office of Cannabis Management's Division of Medical Cannabis assumes oversight of the medical cannabis market.
  • Until then, the existing patient registry, retail locations, licensed businesses, and qualifying conditions remain unchanged under the Minnesota Department of Health.
  • One immediate change is the elimination of the $200 enrollment fee for new medical cannabis patients.
  • Starting in 2025, more businesses can enter the medical marijuana market, allowing for broader product availability.
  • Medical marijuana providers can apply for licenses to serve both recreational and medical customers.

Retailer Access for Medical Patients

  • Medical patients can shop at recreational retailers, but the 10% tax will apply to products not subject to medical retailers' charges.
  • Some retailers will be permitted to sell both recreational and medical marijuana from one location starting in 2025.

Pre-Employment Drug Tests

  • Applicants cannot be screened for marijuana except when required by federal law or specific job categories outlined in Minnesota statutes.
  • Random or ongoing cannabis tests for most employees will be prohibited.
  • Companies can still ban cannabis possession and use during work hours, on-site, or in company vehicles.
  • Testing is allowed for “safety-sensitive” positions, healthcare workers, caregivers, commercial drivers, professional athletes, and roles funded by federal grants or under state/federal drug testing laws.

Conclusion

As Minnesota prepares to embark on a new chapter of cannabis legislation, it's evident that change is afoot in various aspects of the industry. The comprehensive nature of the law covers a wide spectrum of topics, from social equity provisions that aim to correct past injustices to the evolution of the state's medical cannabis program. This pivotal moment reflects a careful balance between addressing historical disparities and ensuring the responsible growth of the cannabis sector.

The creation of the Division of Social Equity emphasizes the commitment to addressing the consequences of cannabis prohibition on communities that have borne the brunt of its impact. By prioritizing social equity applicants and providing grants, Minnesota is taking steps towards rectifying past wrongs and promoting a more inclusive industry.

Similarly, the transition within the medical cannabis program signifies an evolution towards broader accessibility and availability of cannabis products. The removal of the enrollment fee for new medical patients demonstrates a commitment to enhancing patient access and care.

While these changes are significant, they also underline the complex web of regulations, considerations, and aspirations that characterize the cannabis landscape. As Minnesota navigates this transformation, staying informed through resources like the 2023 Factbook is essential for individuals, businesses, and communities to thrive in this evolving environment.

As we witness the dawn of a new era for cannabis in Minnesota, we encourage ongoing dialogue, exploration, and understanding. This journey, filled with challenges and opportunities, invites us all to be active participants in shaping the future of cannabis in the state.

For the latest developments and insights, continue engaging with our updates and reach out to us. Together, let's embark on this transformative journey into Minnesota's cannabis landscape.

 

Lydia K. (Bsc. RN) is a cannabis writer, which, considering where you’re reading this, makes perfect sense. Currently, she is a regular writer for Mace Media. In the past, she has written for MyBud, RX Leaf & Dine Magazine (Canada), CBDShopy (UK) and Cannavalate & Pharmadiol (Australia). She is best known for writing epic news articles and medical pieces. Occasionally, she deviates from news and science and creates humorous articles. And boy doesn't she love that! She equally enjoys ice cream, as should all right-thinking people.