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Tuesday, February 27, 2024
HomeNewsMinnesota Becomes 23rd State to End Marijuana Prohibition

Minnesota Becomes 23rd State to End Marijuana Prohibition

On Tuesday, May 30,2023, Minnesota Gov­ernor Tim Walz signed legislation removing the prohibition of recreational marijuana use and possession, making Minnesota the 23rd state to do so.

Effective August 1, 2023, all misdemeanor convictions for marijuana possession will be expunged. Previous felony criminal marijua­na convictions will be reviewed for expunge­ment by a state body on a case-by-case basis some time after August 1st.

A constitutional amendment, only the 18th in history, prohibited the possession, distri­bution, and use of alcoholic beverages after midnight on January 17, 1920. Intended to curb the perceived problems of alcohol use and abuse, it proved to do the opposite. With­out regulation, organized crime stepped in to produce and distribute everything from moonshine to beer. The problems only worsened, and folks who wanted to enjoy a healthy cocktail after work began lobbying for repeal. By December 5, 1933 the 18th amendment was repealed, although some states continued to impose prohibition of al­cohol up until 1966.

The first state efforts to prohibit the use and sale of marijuana began in 1906. By 1937, the Marihuana Tax Act made marijuana il­legal across the country. By 1970 additional laws, regulations and penalties were added. Again, just as with alcohol, organized crime moved in to produce and distribute the prod­ucts people wanted.

Although Minnesota has now legalized cannabis products for people age 21 and over, those products are still illegal on the federal level. Shortly after Walz signed the legislation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobac­co and Firearms (ATF) issued a reminder to Minnesotans that, “The Federal Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits any person who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance as defined by the Controlled Sub­stances Act of 1970 from shipping, transport­ing, receiving, or possessing firearms or am­munition.

Regardless of the recent changes in Min­nesota law related to the legalization of mar­ijuana, an individual who is a current user of marijuana is still federally defined as an “unlawful user” of a controlled substance and therefore is prohibited from shipping, trans­porting, receiving, or possessing firearms or ammunition.”

The legislation creates the Office of Can­nabis Management (OCM) to define and implement new regulations for the growing, distribution, and retailing of cannabis based products. The state is saying that retail dis­pensaries will not be opening until early in 2025.

Starting August 1, 2023, Minnesotans may possess up to two pounds of cannabis flower at home and may grow up to eight plants, al­though only four of those can be mature and flowering at one time. How that will be regu­lated is not clear at this time.

People may possess and transport up to two ounces of cannabis flower, eight grams of concentrate, and 800 milligrams of edibles.

Under the terms in the legislation the State of Minnesota will collect a 10% tax on the sale of cannabis related products. The tax is estimated to bring in over $100 million per year and the legislature intends 20% of that money will be shared with local governments.

Minnesota’s Medical Marijuana program will continue under the Minnesota Depart­ment of Health until March 1, 2025 when it will move to the OCM.

Low potency cannabis products are also af­fected by the new legislation. Regulatory au­thority for those products will transfer from the Board of Pharmacy to the Office of Medi­cal Cannabis. Starting October 1, 2023 all es­tablishments that sell gummies, topicals, and beverages (AKA Pot Pops) with low potency THC, CBD, or both will have to register with the State of Minnesota. There will not be a cost to register and the registration form is not yet available.

The state will be working rapidly yet thor­oughly to develop rules and structure around this profound piece of legislation. It has pre­pared a website https://cannabis.state.mn.us/  that provides current information on every­thing from the legislation itself to how you can become a cannabis entrepreneur.

Steve Fernlund
Steve Fernlund
Typically these “about me” pages include a list of academic achievements (I have none) and positions held (I have had many, but who really cares about those?) So, in the words of the late Admiral James Stockwell, “Who am I? Why am I here?” I’m well into my seventh decade on this blue planet we call home. I’m a pretty successful husband, father, and grandfather, at least in my humble opinion. My progeny may disagree. We have four children and five grandchildren. I spent most of my professional life in the freight business. At the tender age of 40, early retirement beckoned and we moved to Grand Marais. A year after we got here, we bought and operated the Cook County News Herald, a weekly newspaper in Grand Marais. A sharp learning curve for a dumb freight broker to become a newspaper editor and publisher. By 1999 the News Herald was an acquisition target for a rapidly consolidating media market. We sold our businesses and “retired” again, buying a winter retreat in Nevada. In the fall of 2016, we returned to Grand Marais and bought a house from old friends of ours on the ridge overlooking Lake Superior. They were able to move closer to family and their Mexico winter home. And we came home to what we say is our last house. I’m a strong believer in the value of local newspapers--both online and those you can wrap a fish in. I write a weekly column and a couple of feature stories for the Northshore Journal. I’m most interested in writing about the everyday lives of local people and reporting on issues of importance to them.
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