Ten Facts about Minnesota's New Cannabis Regulations

In Minnesota, recreational marijuana has been legalized, making it the 23rd state to do so.

Are you interested in learning more about Minnesota's new marijuana law? Here is a list of 10 things you should know. 

Adults in Minnesota now have the right to use marijuana for recreational purposes, making it the 23rd state to do so.

In the near future, there will be numerous modifications to the way things are. Growing and consuming marijuana will be legally permissible. Municipalities and counties are mandated to permit properly authorized cannabis stores to establish. People convicted for particular cannabis-related offenses will have them nullified.

Angela Davis, an MPR News host, interviewed Sen. Lindsey Port, a Democrat from Burnsville and author of the bill, and Beau Kilmer, the McCauley Chair in Drug Policy Innovation at RAND, a non-partisan think tank headquartered in Santa Monica, California.

The trio conversed about the evolution of the public's perception on cannabis and the implications of the new regulations for users and non-users alike. 

Below are 10 essential queries and responses concerning the Minnesota cannabis legislation. 

What does the recent legislation state about medical marijuana dispensaries owned by Native American tribes?

We were very conscientious about showing our tribal nations in Minnesota the proper respect. The tribal governments are allowed to decide their own policies with regards to medical marijuana and recreational use, based on the compacts they set up with the state government. Our legislation does not interfere with this process in any way. It is entirely in the hands of the tribal nations and the governor to come to an agreement.

What is the legal opinion concerning expungement?

In the case of misdemeanor possession convictions, they will be automatically expunged. As for felonies related to possession or sale, a board will evaluate each situation independently to decide if the sentence should be reduced or cleared, depending on the details.

Non-citizens can still obtain expungements.

Kilmer: It is a significant development that [the law] allows for expungement without any action from those convicted of certain offenses. Ten years ago, when Washington and Colorado were first legalizing, expungement was not discussed, but as other states legalized, some provisions for expungement were included.

Frequently, the responsibility would be left up to the person to take the initiative, for example, to file a petition with the court or employ an attorney. Depending on the financial resources available, it could be difficult to have the offense expunged. Making it automatic however, puts the onus on the state and is seen as a major plus for Minnesotans.

  • Are criminal records involving marijuana likely to be expunged if Minnesota legalizes the substance? This article provides more information.

Are there any limits on the places where weed can be used?

The answer to that question varies from one municipality to another. In the month of August, it will be up to the cities to make a decision if individuals can use them in public areas, such as parks. This is something that can be done through the passing of a local law, similar to what is done with smoking regulations.

It is possible to restrict smoking in the same way as one would do with cigarettes; municipalities can forbid it in public places, set up non-smoking zones, etc. Furthermore, just as with alcohol, it is not permitted to consume marijuana in motor vehicles. Lastly, there is a ban on using it in multi-family dwellings such as apartments.

Edibles, tinctures, and oils are all still available for consumption, however, smoking has been prohibited. A number of landlords had already barred smoking in their residences for health reasons, and this bill reinforces that restriction.

What regulations should be followed to cultivate cannabis outdoors?

It is acceptable to have eight plants, including a maximum of four that are flowering, in your garden or inside your home. If you decide to cultivate your plants outdoors, you must form a boundary around them, such as with a small fence. Cultivating the plants can take place either in the backyard or under the shelter of grow lights indoors.

Kilmer : Most of the U.S. regions that have allowed cannabis use have provision for cultivating the plant at home. The quantity of plants is variable; some zones permit up to six whereas other regions could permit more. Additionally, the practice of having some plants in the flowering stage and some still in the growing stage is a consistent theme.

Is it possible for employers to forbid their staff from consuming marijuana?

We have outlined a set of tasks related to safety. If your job consists of caring for children, medical patients, driving a truck or operating a school bus (as indicated in the bill), then your employer must inform you of their plans to undertake regular drug testing.

For those employed in retail, manufacturing, or a warehouse who are not in a safety-sensitive profession, it is permissible to use cannabis during their free time.

It's evident that you can't smoke marijuana while working, as your boss could still forbid it. Just like you wouldn't be allowed to go to work while drunk, you wouldn't be able to do so while high either, and your employer could terminate you if you did.

Will any investigations be conducted to assess the effects of legalizing marijuana?

Kilmer: As an investigator, something that I found to be particularly appealing about the bill was the $3 million it allocated to the University of Minnesota to create a cannabis research facility.

The University of Minnesota's research grants will be used to examine the various types of cannabis, along with the public health influences and consumer habits that come with them. They will also document the effects of cannabis use.

A survey is being conducted in the following year to determine what people are currently using and how it will vary when the stores open. Another survey will be carried out after the stores are open to measure the effect on public health and the best way to tackle it.

This bill has an allocation of over five million dollars for studies and surveys in order to make certain that reliable data is obtained from both extensive public health and youth sources. This information will help to explain how youth are engaging in the activity, and how this may shift with the legalization.

What is the impact of making cannabis legal on the utilization of it by young people?

Kilmer : In order to analyze the impact of legalization, researchers would compare states that had legalized it with those that hadn't. Initially, there wasn't much data available due to the limited number of states that had legalized marijuana. Early research suggested that legalization had little to no influence on the "past-month prevalence" of marijuana use, and may even lead to a decrease.

It was only recently that a much more meticulous research was released, with a larger data set. This study concluded that the passage of recreational marijuana laws in states that had dispensaries brought about a 15 percent rise in past-month prevalence.

In terms of the health consequences, we need to take a step back and ask ourselves if we really care about the last month's prevalence. It is not only important to know if someone has used a substance in the past 30 days but also how often they are using it and what products they are consuming. These are the areas that the surveys referred to by Sen. Port will be very helpful in determining.

It is evident that there is much to discover regarding the repercussions of cannabis legalization on problematic usage.


Are there any measures that can be taken to make it a more level playing field for those wishing to launch a business?

In order to ensure that communities of color, who have been adversely affected by cannabis prohibition, are able to capitalize on the newly created cannabis industry, we have included social equity applications in the bill. These applications are for people that have experienced direct harm from cannabis [policy] in a community that has been disproportionally impacted.

If you have a prior marijuana-related conviction, you can submit an application under the social equity program and receive greater consideration for licensing. This applies to those who live in areas which have endured over-policing. We strive to ensure that those throughout the state have the capability to open dispensaries.

What will be the purpose of the revenue generated through the taxation of marijuana sales?

Our taxes have remained relatively low, as this was a conscious decision to prevent the legal market from being priced out by the illegal market. This rate is set at 10 percent, with 20 percent of this allocated to local areas in order to assist with enforcement efforts, public health initiatives, etc.

By joining forces with the municipalities and districts, we made sure to supply them with the necessary means to keep track of the rules. The leftover money goes into the general fund to maintain the state's capability to provide the services the citizens require.


Could Minnesota see a decrease in cannabis prices?

We are convinced that the cost will reduce with the introduction of the recreational program, given that demand, supply and availability will all increase all over the state. As of now, there are only two medical marijuana entities in Minnesota. Therefore, with the commencement of an entire industry that will be able to sell, we are positive that the cost will decrease dramatically.

Beginning in July, we are doing away with the annual fee or registration fee for medical patients. We are making it easier for people to get their medical marijuana, as the cost has been a significant barrier in Minnesota.

To reduce expenses and enable entrance into both the medical and recreational industries, we have implemented measures.


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