05/28/2024

Minnesota has become the 23rd state in the United States to legalize cannabis for recreational use among adults aged 21 and older. The state took significant steps towards cannabis legalization over the years, starting with the approval of medical marijuana in 2014, followed by the authorization of leaf form in 2021. In 2022, the state legalized the sale and consumption of edibles containing small amounts of hemp-derived THC.

The first dispensary selling recreational marijuana has already opened its doors on the Red Lake Nation in north-central Minnesota. Named NativeCare, the dispensary had previously been providing medical marijuana to both band members and non-members since April. Now, anyone aged 21 and older can purchase cannabis products from NativeCare and other upcoming dispensaries.

While the new cannabis law allows for the possession, use, and cultivation of cannabis by adults, dispensaries cannot open until the state establishes a licensing system for cannabis businesses. This process may take up to another year, with estimates suggesting early 2025 as the target timeframe. However, tribal governments, such as the Red Lake Nation and White Earth Nation, are not bound by state regulations and can operate independently. As a result, they have taken the lead in launching recreational dispensaries.

Individuals are allowed to possess up to two ounces of cannabis in public, as well as 8 grams of cannabis concentrate, edibles with up to 800 milligrams of THC, and up to two pounds of cannabis at home. Home cultivation is also permitted, with individuals allowed to grow up to eight marijuana plants, of which only four can be mature and flowering at once.

The cannabis industry in Minnesota will be regulated by the Office of Cannabis Management, funded through taxes from cannabis sales. The office will set industry standards, control packaging to prevent attraction to children, and conduct research on cannabis and roadside testing to detect impairment.

Local municipalities have the authority to temporarily restrict cannabis sales until January 1, 2025. Some cities and towns have already adopted or are considering measures to limit where cannabis can be used and sold within their jurisdictions.

Employers can prohibit the use of marijuana for employees in certain safety-related jobs, but adults outside of those positions are allowed to use cannabis in their off time. However, it is still illegal to drive while impaired by cannabis, and law enforcement plans to train drug recognition evaluators to identify impaired drivers.

Minnesota’s legalization efforts also include initiatives to address past marijuana-related criminal records. Low-level offenses will be automatically sealed, with a review process established for more complex cases. Authorities estimate that approximately 66,000 people with misdemeanor marijuana records and 230,000 people with felony marijuana records may be eligible for expungement.

Despite the legalization of recreational cannabis, Minnesota’s medical marijuana program will continue, providing access to medical cannabis for qualifying patients. Cannabis use will not be allowed at the Minnesota State Fair in 2023, as the fairgrounds retain the authority to set their own guidelines regarding cannabis consumption.