Cannabis in Minnesota

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Cannabis legalization advocates at Twin Cities Pride Parade, 2013

Cannabis in Minnesota is legal for medical use as of 2014. In July 2022, food and beverages containing tetrahydrocannabinol are legal in Minnesota. However, the Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) must be derived from hemp, and is restricted to 5 mg per serving.[1] In May 2023, the Minnesota legislature passed a bill legalizing marijuana for adults 21 and over. The bill is currently pending signature by the governor.[2] If enacted, the use, possession, and cultivation of cannabis would be legal in the state beginning August 1, 2023. Commercial licenses for sales will require an additional 12-18 months, in order to establish the new regulations.



In 1976, during a short-lived wave of decriminalization in the United States, Minnesota reduced the penalty and decriminalized possession for 42.5 grams (1+12 oz) or less to a petty misdemeanor of a maximum $200 fine.[3][4]

Medical Marijuana Initiatives[edit]

The Minnesota Medical Marijuana Act creates a patient registry under the Department of Health relating to the therapeutic use of medical cannabis. It authorizes the use of medical cannabis in limited forms for certain qualifying medical conditions and regulates the distribution and manufacture of medical cannabis. It also creates a task force to conduct an impact assessment on medical cannabis therapeutic research and provides for certain criminal and civil protections for parties involved in the registry program. This passed the Minnesota House 89–40 and the Minnesota Senate 46–16.[5] In May 2014, Governor Mark Dayton signed into law a bill legalizing marijuana for the treatment of nine severe medical conditions, including cancer, severe epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, Tourette's syndrome, ALS and Crohn's Disease.[6]

Registration for the program began on June 1, 2015, with actual distribution of medical marijuana beginning July 1, 2015. It is considered to be the most restrictive medical marijuana bill in the country,[7] due to the limited number of medical conditions that qualify, and the forms of cannabis that are legal. To qualify for the program, patients must be diagnosed with one of the following conditions: Cancer (with pain, nausea, vomiting, and/or wasting), Glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Tourettes, ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), a seizure disorder, Multiple Sclerosis, Crohn's Disease, or a painful terminal illness with less than a year to live.[8] For those individuals who meet the medical criteria, cannabis will only be legally available in liquid, pill or vaporized delivery method that does not require the use of dried leaves or plant form.[9] In 2016, "intractable pain" was added to the list of qualifying conditions, with PTSD added August 1, 2017. Chronic pain and age-related macular degeneration were also added to the list of qualifying conditions on December 1, 2019; the changes went into effect in August 2020.[10][11][12]

Recreational-use Cannabis Legislation[edit]

On November 6, 2018, Tim Walz was elected Governor of Minnesota. Walz argued that legalizing cannabis could bring in a new source of tax revenue if regulated properly, and it could reduce the number of people locked up for drug offenses: "I just think the time is here and we're seeing it across the country. Minnesota has always been able to implement these things right."[13]

On January 28, 2019, Senators Melisa Franzen and Scott Jensen and Representative Mike Freiberg introduced a bill that would allow people over 21 to possess, grow, and purchase limited quantities of cannabis. In a statement from Senator Freiburg: "Our focus in drafting legislation to end the prohibition of cannabis in Minnesota is to ensure we have a responsible regulatory model for consumer access that still provides for public health, safety and welfare." he continued, "The time has come for us to have this debate."[14]

On March 8, 2019, Republicans in the Minnesota Senate voted down a measure to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. Republicans also decided not to create a task-force to study the issue further. Sen. Melisa Franzen (D-Edina), who sponsored the measure said "We don't have a bill to move, so I think the debate is shut down in the Senate," noting that Governor Tim Walz could convene a task force of his own but chose to not do so. Several proposals remain under consideration in the House, including the creation of a task force, similar to what Franzen proposed, and a constitutional amendment to let voters decide the fate of legalizing, taxing and regulating the recreational use of cannabis.[15][16]

As of July 1, 2022, food and beverages containing tetrahydrocannabinol are legal in Minnesota if the chemical is derived from hemp.[1] Packages must be limited to a tetrahydrocannabinol content of 50mg total and 5mg per serving. The legislation was enacted in part to address previously unregulated delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol products. It is unclear if leaders of the Minnesota Senate understood that this legislation would legalize products with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol.[1]

Democrats took control of the Minnesota Senate in the 2022 election and made it clear that cannabis would be on their list of top legislative priorities. In January 2023, DFL Representative Zack Stephenson and Senator Lindsey Port introduced a bill to legalize recreational marijuana.[17]

On April 24, 2023, the bill HF100 was passed by the Minnesota House 71-59 and a very close 34-33 vote in the Minnesota Senate.[18] The bill went to a bipartisan and bicameral conference committee to pass a version both chambers of the Minnesota Legislature agreed to before a final vote from each body.[19]

After reconciling differences in the House and Senate versions of the bills, The updated legislation was reintroduced to the Minnesota House on May 18, where it passed with a 73-57 vote. It was transferred to the Senate the next day, and passed with a 34-32 vote in early morning hours of May 20.[20] If signed into law by the state governor, the adult-use possession provisions will take effect on August 1, 2023. A May 2023 poll by KSTP-TV/SurveyUSA showed 64% of registered voters in Minnesota are supportive of legalization.[21] Incumbent Governor Tim Walz has expressed support, and is expected to sign it into law.[22]

Implementation of Legalized Cannabis[edit]

Representative Zach Stephenson has been in frequent debate about the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Minnesota and estimates that it will take at least a year to complete and implement the organized framework for recreational dispensaries, possession, sale, and manufacturing if the bill passes.[23]

This bill proposes to implement a new "Office of Cannabis Management" for regulation and law-enforcement, the addition of more than 12 types of licenses for commercial growers, a 10% sales tax on all cannabis sales in addition to state taxes, multiple treatment programs for victims of drug-abuse, and providing grants to those with high interest in joining the cannabis market.[23]

Upon enactment, this bill will remove all penalties for cannabis possession and thus will result in the expunging of all previous criminal convictions for first-time and subsequent cannabis possession offenses.[23]

The bill would allow adults in the state of Minnesota who 21 years of age or older to purchase and possess up to 2 lbs. of marijuana flower (2 ounces in a public space), 8 grams of concentrate, and 800 mg of infused edibles in a private residence. Cultivation of up to 8 plants (with only 4 flowering at once) would also be permitted following passage. This would also permit adults 21 years of age or older to gift each other any amount up to the legal limit and authorize operation of paid cannabis delivery services.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Faircloth, Ryan. "Edibles, beverages infused with cannabis ingredient THC become legal Friday in Minnesota". Star Tribune. Retrieved July 1, 2022.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Robert J. MacCoun; Peter Reuter (August 27, 2001). Drug War Heresies: Learning from Other Vices, Times, and Places. Cambridge University Press. pp. 46–. ISBN 978-0-521-79997-3.
  4. ^ "Minnesota Laws and Penalties". Retrieved June 25, 2021.
  5. ^ "Governor Dayton Signs Medical Marijuana Bill into Law". Archived from the original on June 5, 2014. Retrieved January 14, 2022.
  6. ^ Condon, Patrick (May 29, 2014). "Dayton signs bill legalizing medical marijuana in Minnesota". Retrieved February 10, 2017.
  7. ^ "Medical marijuana on verge of Minn. law; it will be strictest in U.S." Star Tribune. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  8. ^ "Medical Cannabis". Archived from the original on October 31, 2015. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  9. ^ "General Information about the Minnesota Medical Cannabis Program". Archived from the original on November 7, 2015. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  10. ^ "Minnesota medical cannabis program to include PTSD sufferers". Twin Cities. July 5, 2017. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
  11. ^ "Medical Cannabis Qualifying Conditions - Minnesota Dept. of Health". Archived from the original on April 23, 2018. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
  12. ^ "Minnesota OKs medical cannabis for chronic pain, eye disease". Retrieved December 3, 2019.
  13. ^ "Legalize pot? Gov.-elect Tim Walz says Minnesota should". Twin Cities. November 25, 2018. Retrieved April 13, 2019.
  14. ^ Reed, Ryan (January 28, 2019). "Minnesota Introduces Bill for Marijuana Legalization". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 13, 2019.
  15. ^ "Minnesota Republican senators reject legalizing marijuana". Star Tribune. Retrieved April 13, 2019.
  16. ^ Raiche, Ryan (May 17, 2019). "High but not hired: Companies preparing for legal marijuana". KSTP. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  17. ^ "Minnesota DFL lawmakers unveil plan to legalize adult-use cannabis". January 5, 2023.
  18. ^ [1]
  19. ^ [2]
  20. ^ (May 20, 2023). "Minnesota Senate sends legal marijuana to governor's desk". Duluth News Tribune. Retrieved May 20, 2023. {{cite web}}: External link in |last= (help)
  21. ^ Brown, Kyle (May 11, 2023). "KSTP-TV/SurveyUSA poll: Minnesotans support legalizing marijuana, sports betting". 5 Eyewitness News. Retrieved May 27, 2023.
  22. ^ Tribune, Ryan Faircloth Star. "Senate votes to legalize recreational marijuana; Walz has pledged to sign bill". Star Tribune. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  23. ^ a b c "House passes bill to legalize recreational cannabis, sends it to Senate - Session Daily - Minnesota House of Representatives". Retrieved April 26, 2023.
  24. ^ DeLong, Matt; Faircloth, Ryan; Johnson, Brooks. "What you need to know about Minnesota's marijuana legalization bill". Star Tribune. Retrieved May 27, 2023.