The governor of Minnesota has put pen to paper on a marijuana legalization bill recently advanced by lawmakers after months of tense committee hearings and closely-run floor votes.
The North Star State now becomes the 23rd state in the US to legalize recreational cannabis.
Gov. Tim Walz (D) has been a longstanding advocate for reform of Minnesota’s cannabis laws, and he wasted little time in signing off on HF 100.
“This has been a long journey with a lot of folks involved,” Walz said. “What we know right now is prohibition does not work. We’ve criminalized a lot of folks who are going to start the expungement process on those records.”
Following the bill’s enactment into law, possession and home cultivation of cannabis for personal use will officially become legal in Minnesota on August 1. The bill also contains provisions for the establishment of a legal marijuana market in the state, which regulators expect to be up and running within 12 to 18 months.
The former governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura, is another long-time supporter for ending the state’s prohibition on cannabis and he stood alongside Gov. Walz during the signing ceremony.
“This was a huge day in our family’s life because prohibition will now end. It’s gone on longer than I’ve been alive, the prohibition of a plant made by god,” he said. “We were always told everything was here for us to use. Now in Minnesota we will be able to use this plant after years of prohibition.”
The final version of HF 100 was thrashed out by a bicameral conference committee to resolve differences between House and Senate-approved bills before the end of the legislative session.
With this achieved, state officials already got to work on launching the website of the state’s new cannabis regulatory agency, which won’t technically be in operation until July. Nonetheless, the website contains a notice soliciting applications for vendors interested in building the state’s licensing system for adult-use marijuana businesses.
Here are the main provisions of Minnesota’s new marijuana legalization law, which takes effect on August 1, 2023.
Adults 21 and older can legally possess up to two ounces of marijuana in public and cultivate up to eight plants at home, although only four of the plants can be mature. Possession of up to two pounds of cannabis at home is permitted.
Adults can gift up to two ounces of cannabis to other adults so long as no remuneration is involved.
The legal cannabis market will launch in 12 to 18 months. Existing medical marijuana dispensaries will be permitted to seek licenses for recreational sales from March 1, 2025.
Certain criminal records for cannabis-related misdemeanors will be automatically expunged, beginning in August. A yet-to-be established Cannabis Expungement Board will review marijuana-related felony cases for the possibility of expungement and relief. This will include potential sentence reductions for those currently serving time in prison.
Municipalities and counties will be able to own and operate their own licensed dispensaries alongside those of the private market.
Local jurisdictions are not authorized to prohibit marijuana businesses from operating in their locality but they can impose certain restrictions on their activities, such as where they are located, their operating hours, and how many can open in particular areas.
On-site cannabis consumption for events will be permitted subject to the appropriate license, as will marijuana delivery services.
Cannabis sales will be taxed at 10 percent of gross receipts.
Eighty percent of these tax revenues are for the state’s general fund, which will earmark a portion of these funds for cannabusiness grants, substance misuse treatment programs, among others, while local governments will receive the remaining 20 percent.
Social equity applicants will be prioritized for marijuana business licenses. This is defined as those either from a low-income neighborhood, with a cannabis conviction, or a close family member with a cannabis conviction.