Minnesota’s cannabis history starts early on in 1976 when the state decriminalized cannabis possession under 42.5 grams or less as a small misdemeanor.
Minnesota is still developing its presence in the cannabis industry. The state has created a successful medical cannabis program, but has yet to legalize recreational cannabis. However, recreational cannabis legalization could come to Minnesota this year, with the state’s House and Senate currently discussing the plant’s future.
Medical Cannabis in Minnesota
According to the Marijuana Policy Project (mpp.org), in May of 2014 the Minnesota Senate and House passed different medical marijuana bills, including the Minnesota Medical Marijuana Act.
The Senate bill included more patients, including those with PTSD, severe nausea, and intractable pain. The House bill reflected several demands from law enforcement and Governor Mark Dayton, including prohibiting patients from using cannabis flowers or leaves in their natural form, having a monopoly manufacturer, and including an invasive observational study.
On May 15, 2014, a committee agreed to a compromise and the House and Senate signed off on the House bill the following day. Dayton signed the bill into law on May 29, 2014. The first dispensary opened a little more than a year later, on July 1, 2015.
The Minnesota Medical Marijuana Act allows patients with qualifying conditions to register for medical cannabis with conditions such as cancer, severe epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, Tourette’s syndrome, ALS, and Crohn’s Disease. Minnesota’s medical cannabis program is considered to be one of the most restrictive in the country due to the limited number of medical conditions that qualify and the forms of legal medical cannabis.
On March 1, 2022 a new law went into effect to allow medical cannabis patients to access cannabis flower. With over 40,000 patients in the Minnesota Medical Cannabis Program legislators predict that medical cannabis sales will only continue to increase.
Recreational Cannabis in Minnesota
In 2018, Governor Tim Walz sparked the conversation around recreational legalization arguing the tax revenue could be great for the state and lead to less arrests for drug-related offenses. The following year, in 2019, Senator Melisa Franzen, Representative Mike Feiberg, and Senator Scott Jensen introduced a bill that would allow people over 21 to possess, grow, and purchase limited quantities of cannabis. The Senate Republicans in Minnesota voted against the proposed measure to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. Republicans also decided not to create a task-force to study the issue further.
Now in 2023, it is highly probable that adult-use cannabis is coming to Minnesota given voter support and bipartisan political backing for recreational cannabis legalization in this year’s state legislative session.
Once a recreational cannabis legalization bill has passed, Minnesota will roll out regulations and guidelines for cannabis business licensing. Those interested in starting a cannabis business in Minnesota should keep a close eye on legalization efforts in the state and get started planning their cannabis business today. Though no application timeline has been announced yet, cannabis business licensing can be a challenging and time-sensitive process, and getting started early gives you an advantage on your competition! Contact us today to get started!
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