Minnesota Cannabis? You Betcha!

Minnesota is poised to legalize adult-use cannabis with the approval of HF 100 by the state legislature. Governor Tim Walz is expected to sign the bill soon (and may in fact have done so by the time this post goes live), making Minnesota the 23rd state (plus DC, Guam, the Marianas, and the Virgin Islands) to legalize recreational cannabis. Commencing on August 1, Minnesotans will have the right to possess, use, and cultivate cannabis for personal consumption within their homes.

Similar to other states that have recently legalized adult-use cannabis, Minnesota’s new law establishes possession limits, allowing up to two pounds of cannabis flower in private residences and two ounces in public. The bill also sets caps of 800 milligrams for edibles and eight grams for concentrates.

The new law envisions the licensing of retail establishments, but Minnesotans (and folks in neighboring states) will have to wait a bit longer before dispensaries open their doors in the Twin Cities, Rochester, and beyond. As explained by Minnesota attorney Jen Randolph Reise, Head of Business and Cannabis Law at North Star Law Group in Saint Paul:

The bill creates a new regulator, the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), which will be promulgating important rules and granting licenses. Currently, the Senate bill directs license applications to be available Jan. 1, 2024. The OCM will need some time to review those applications and grant licenses. Then, applicants who receive a cannabis business license must build out their facilities and pass inspection by OCM and/or the local municipalities to ensure regulatory compliance. Only then can Minnesota growers legally plant seeds. From seedling to harvested flower, cannabis production can take three to eight months, depending on the plant’s strain, genetics, and environmental factors. All in all, insiders do not expect adult-use legal sales to start until summer to fall of 2024.

To encourage entrepreneurship and foster a craft cannabis market, the bill prohibits vertical integration, preventing the OCM from issuing licenses to single applicants with excessive control over the supply chain. Furthermore, the legislation includes provisions that will allow Minnesota to continue what Reise calls its “experiment” with lower-potency hemp edibles. These are defined as hemp food or beverages that contain no more than five milligrams of delta-9 THC. Specific licenses will be available for lower-potency hemp edible manufacturers and lower-potency hemp edible retailers (in addition to 14 other license types!).

Minnesota’s move towards legalization turns the spotlight toward the Midwest region. With neighboring states such as Iowa and Ohio also considering legalization initiatives, Minnesota’s decision could mark the beginning of a broader trend in the Heartland. Keep a close watch on developments in this region.