Northern Wilds Magazine
Minnesota recently joined other states such as Colorado, Arizona, Michigan, California, and many others, in the legalized recreational use of marijuana. | CRYSTAL WEED VIA UNSPLASH
Along the Shore

Minnesota embraces the growing cannabis landscape

Over the past decade, several states across the U.S. have chosen to legalize marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes, reflecting a significant shift in public opinion and attitudes toward cannabis.

Most recently, Minnesota joined other states such as Colorado, Arizona, Michigan, California, and Virginia, among many others, in the legalized recreational use of marijuana. The new Minnesota law enacted in May during the 2023 legislative session is set to take effect August 1, making Minnesota the 23rd state in the U.S. to legalize cannabis.

While numerous regulation changes are going into effect on August 1, the legal sale of cannabis by a licensed business will not happen until January 2025. Minnesota will spend the next year and a half developing the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) and hiring staff to navigate the regulation and enforcement of the cannabis industry. Once established, OCM will oversee and issue licenses for cannabis cultivators, manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers, delivery services, and more.

Despite the 2025 timeline, starting on August 1, individuals 21 and older are allowed to possess and transport up to 2 ounces of cannabis flower and up to 8 grams of adult-use cannabis concentrate. In addition, an individual can begin growing up to eight cannabis plants at home and possess up to 2 pounds of cannabis flower in their residence.

Currently, Minnesota does not have a permitted business selling cannabis seeds. However, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture said in a statement to the Star Tribune they would begin to “issue permits to label cannabis seed starting July 1, and seed sales will then start August 1” In the meantime, cannabis seeds are available online by out of state permitted businesses for individuals to purchase.

Last but not least, Minnesotans with a misdemeanor or petty misdemeanor possession will start the process to get their records expunged, although it may take up to a year. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) estimates more than 60,000 misdemeanor marijuana cases will be eligible for expungement.

While there remains a handful of unknowns at this time, the new law has many city and small-town officials setting meetings and attending informational conferences regarding the new marijuana law. Following the 2023 legislative session news, a small group of Cook County and Grand Marais officials met on June 8 to discuss the newly passed law and talk about education, zoning, ordinances, compliance checks, and much more.

Shortly after, the League of Minnesota Cities, a membership association of local elected and appointed city officials from across the state, hosted a conference where the conversations circled the trending topic.

Many city and county officials are busy diving into the specifics of the law to discover the rules and how they will apply. The law states that local governments cannot ban cannabis businesses; instead, they are allowed to limit the number of businesses based on population size. Under the law, a county can limit one retailer per 12,500 residents.

“I’m sure there are lots of entrepreneurs interested in this opportunity,” said Grand Marais Mayor Tracy Benson. “We’ll just have to see how it goes.”

Another critical note included in the law concerns taxes. The law includes a 10 percent tax rate on the sale of cannabis products, with 80 percent of the tax going to the general fund and 20 percent to the local government cannabis aid account. Cities will receive half of the amount certified in the cannabis aid account.

The legalization of marijuana has drawn significant economic opportunities and benefits to states who have adopted the law change in recent years. The projected revenue for nearby Michigan in 2023 is $2.70 billion, while the western pioneering marijuana state of Colorado is $1.60 billion. Initial market analysis shows Minnesota marijuana sales have the potential to reach $1.5 billion annually.

Minnesota is the latest state to recognize the financial benefits of marijuana legalization and to embrace the growing cannabis landscape.

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