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Office of Cannabis Management Launches Effort to Address Illegal Sales of Raw Cannabis Flower

Saint Paul, MN –The Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) announced that it will begin enforcement to prevent the illegal sales of raw canna­bis flower across Minnesota. The OCM has entered into an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to add inspection capacity for illegal sales of raw cannabis flowers.

While Minnesota has legalized the sale of hemp-derived can­nabinoid consumer products, selling raw cannabis flowers is currently illegal because OCM has not yet issued any canna­bis business licenses. OCM has received complaints from retailers selling cannabis flower under the label of hemp flowers. Hemp is legal only within limits spec­ified by state and federal law.

“Our primary goal at the Of­fice of Cannabis Management is to ensure a safe, legal canna­bis industry that protects public health and provides accurate, reliable information to adult consumers,” said Charlene Briner, OCM interim director. “This interagency agreement gives us capacity to conduct inspections during this transi­tional implementation period, and more fully integrates the work of the MDH inspectors who will eventually transition their work to OCM.”

MDH inspectors, who have been conducting inspections of retailers selling legal hemp-de­rived cannabinoid products will begin simultaneous ex­amination of raw flower prod­ucts being offered for sale to en­sure those products are hemp and not canna­bis.

The exam­ination of raw flow­er products will include reviewing the product’s certificate of analysis for test results on total THC. Raw hemp flowers must contain 0.3% or less of Delta-9 on a dry weight basis. Products exceeding 0.3% Delta-9 dry weight are considered marijua­na and are illegal to sell.

In addition to the addition­al inspection capacity, OCM will expand product testing ca­pacity by using a field mobile testing unit and through a con­tracted testing lab.

Retailers found to be in violation of the law could be faced with an embargo on products and fines of up to $1 million for violat­ing state law. Additionally, vi­olations may impact a person’s ability to receive a license for a cannabis business. OCM en­courages retailers to review products that they are current­ly selling and ensure that the products fall within legal lim­its.

OCM has sent a letter to all re­tailers registered with MDH to alert them that inspections of raw flower will begin immedi­ately.

In addition to the expanded in­spection and testing capacity, OCM is asking the legislature to accelerate the timeline for the transition of hemp-de­rived cannabinoid enforcement from MDH to OCM as early as July 1, 2024, rather than March 2025. The early transition is something OCM has identi­fied as both a capacity building strategy and a way to better align and integrate the regula­tory work that will all eventu­ally fall under the authority of OCM.

“While this is a temporary is­sue that will no longer exist once businesses are licensed to sell cannabis flowers, OCM’s commitment to ensuring an in­dustry that abides by all legal requirements is steadfast and ongoing,” said Briner. “We are confident that by providing clear expectations and guid­ance to businesses, the major­ity of operators will choose to follow the law.”

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