Legal Cannabis Starts in Minnesota

Stephen Andrews
02 Aug 2023

Recreational use of cannabis goes legal in Minnesota starting August 1st. This makes Minnesota the 23rd state to permit the adult use of cannabis and prepare the ground for launching its own legal market. Under the new law, Minnesotans can possess up to two ounces of weed on their person and two pounds at home.

As of August Minnesota permits its residents to legally possess and grow their own marijuana for recreational purposes. However, legal sales in licensed shops are not expected to launch until 2025 as state lawmakers are still busy crafting the licensing and regulatory system to support the local industry. Despite that, at least one Minnesota tribe plans to use its sovereignty rights and permit sales right away. 

Minnesota’s legalization bill was signed into law by Democrat Governor Tim Walz in May. “This has been a long journey with a lot of folks involved,” Walz said at the time. “What we know right now is prohibition does not work. We’ve criminalized a lot of folks who are going to start the expungement process on those records.” 

Cannabis legalization was a huge subject of debate among opponents and supporters in Minnesota for many years. Typically, critics voiced fears that legal access to marijuana would endanger public safety and young people. Proponents emphasized on the fact that prohibition disproportionately targets people of color and that courts are flooded with cases concerning minor offences. 

The new bill has provisions that could benefit over 60,000 Minnesotans with non-violent, cannabis-related convictions, such as simple possession. A special Cannabis Expungement Board will review felony convictions case by case to decide on eligibility. 

The timing of Minnesota cannabis legalization comes during difficult days for legal canna business. The prolonged wait for banking reform has created havoc in some states. Less than 25% of cannabis businesses have reported profitability year-over-year according to a recent report. In California, a significantly higher number of retailers struggle with debt, while New York still faces challenges to subdue its black market. But newer markets are learning from mistakes done in the early legal markets, thus states such as Missouri and Rhode Island have had more than successful starts.

What’s Legal Under Minnesota’s New Cannabis Law? 

With the new law in place, Minnesotans 21-year-old and above can possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis flower on their person, 8 grams of concentrate and 800 milligrams of THC-infused edible goodies like cookies or gummies. In addition, they can keep up to 2 pounds of cannabis flower at home. 

Homegrowing cannabis for personal use is also legal under the new bill. Minnesotans can take care of up to four flowering cannabis plants at a given time. The plants must be cultivated in a secluded area, not visible to the public, regardless if it’s indoors or outdoors growth. 

Those interested in growing can purchase seeds from retailers approved from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. 

recreational cannabis officially goes legal in Minnesota

Who Will Be the First Retailer? 

While states like Missouri, Arizona and Rhode Island have managed to set up legal recreational retail within a year of introducing legalization, this effort is expected to take a little bit longer in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. However, the new Minnesotan bill does not put any sales restrictions for tribal lands. 

The Red Lake Nations appears to be the first to extend its retail operations and to include offer for recreational users at its existing medical cannabis dispensary starting Aug. 1. The location is on a remote reservation in the northwest of Minnesota. It’s not immediately clear if other tribes will follow steps. 

How Will Minnesota Regulate its Market?

As it launches its state licensing process, Minnesota will prioritize social equity applicants. This would include applicants from low-income areas that have been disproportionately affected from previous drug laws, also people whose cannabis convictions have been sealed, and military veterans who have been stripped of their honorable status due to a cannabis offense, among others. 

Applying for any type of business license carries a responsibility for the applicant to settle a fee, which can range from $250 for delivery services to $10,000 for cultivators and manufacturers. 

Local governments are not allowed to prohibit cannabis sales, but they reserve the right to regulate the number of retailers to having one retailer per 12,500 residents. 

While the legal cannabis industry in Minnesota will be overseen by the Office of Cannabis Management, tribal governments will set their own rules. They are also exempt from tax rules. 

Minnesota already legalized low-potency edibles infused with hemp-derived THC last year. Since July 1, these products are subject to a 10 percent marijuana tax. The same tax rate will apply to other marijuana products as they enter the legal Minnesotan market. 

Where Can You Smoke Pot? 

Marijuana products can be legally consumed on private properties, such as private homes. Consumption may be allowed also at special events given that the organizer is granted permit by local authorities. 

It remains illegal to smoke or vape weed at places where tobacco smoking is prohibited, which includes most businesses, apartment buildings, and college campuses among other places. There is no provision in the state law that bans smoking on public sidewalks, although some local authorities may have restrictions in place. 

Cannabis use in any form is not permitted in places like public schools, on school buses, in prisons, or on federal property. Also, it’s against the law to smoke or vape cannabis where a minor might inhale the smoke. 

Also read on Soft Secrets:

- What Are the Economic Effects of Legalization?

- Is Inflation Harming the Cannabis Sector? 

- What Happens if a Minor is Caught with Cannabis? 

Stephen Andrews