Marijuana is only legal in Minnesota for the treatment of Medical Cannabis Qualifying Conditions. Recreational marijuana is illegal in the state, although in 1976, Minnesota decriminalized the possession of 42.5 grams (1.5 ounces) or less to a petty misdemeanor of a maximum $200 fine. However, having more than 42.5 grams will be considered a felony. In June 2022, Minnesota legislators passed a law allowing persons aged 21 and above to buy and consume legal amounts of hemp-derived THC. According to the modified law, legal amounts of hemp-derived infused edibles can contain up to 5 mg per serving and 50 mg per package.
In May 2014, Governor Mark Dayton approved the Minnesota Medical Cannabis Act. The Minnesota Medical Cannabis Act created the state's Medical Cannabis Program and Registry under the auspices of the Minnesota Department of Health in 2014. Registration for the program commenced on June 1, 2015, and the distribution of medical marijuana commenced on July 1, 2015. Registration for the program authorizes qualified patients to use medical cannabis to treat specific qualifying medical conditions as prescribed by a physician. The Office of Medical Cannabis was created in 2014 to enact medical cannabis legislation. It also regulates the cultivation, production, distribution, processing, sale, and use of medical marijuana in the state.
Before a qualified patient registers for the program, they are required to obtain certification for their medical condition from a doctor, physician assistant, or advanced practice registered nurse. After this, they may register with the program through the Medical Marijuana Registry. Upon registration, a qualified patient will be required to complete a Patient Self-Evaluation on their Registry account. If a qualified patient is under 18 or has a caregiver, the person designated to pick up their medical cannabis will need to fill out a form. The form may be accessed by logging in to their account on the Medical Cannabis Patient Registry and submitting a new Patient Self-Evaluation each time they request medical cannabis. When visiting a Cannabis Patient Center, qualified patients are required to take along with their appointment summaries and the current list of medications prescribed to them during their health care practitioner visits.
Qualifying patients will meet the onsite licensed pharmacists at the Cannabis Patient Center who will review:
Their self-evaluation report;
The current list of prescribed medications; and
The practitioner appointment summary
The onsite licensed pharmacists at the Cannabis Patient Center will also provide medical cannabis dosage recommendations customized for qualified patients. The patients will then be permitted to obtain medical marijuana in liquid, pill, or vaporized delivery methods from Cannabis Patient Center Locations. In 2021, the legislature approved a bill allowing patients to consume whole-plant (flower) cannabis. A qualified patient must be adequately registered with the Minnesota Medical Cannabis Program, as this is a major prerequisite for getting medical marijuana in the state. In addition, make sure to go with your Minnesota state-issued identification card or driver's license when visiting a Cannabis Patient Center. Persons under 18 may only get marijuana through their registered caregivers who must also be registered with the program. There is no law limiting a felon from getting medical marijuana in Minnesota. However, make sure to contact your Cannabis Patient Center to inquire about the terms and conditions.
On May 13, 2021, the Minnesota House approved a bill that would legalize recreational cannabis for use by persons aged over 21 and expunge the records of residents charged with non-violent cannabis-related offenses. Legislators voted 72 - 61 in favor of the bill. However, when the bill moved to the Senate, it was disapproved. Hence, recreational marijuana remains illegal in Minnesota. In December 2021, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) introduced infused edibles as a new alternative to marijuana consumption. Prior to this law, registered patients can only use medical cannabis as topicals, pills, vapor oils, lozenges, and powdered combinations. However, the law is now effective and residents can use infused edibles in the form of gummies and chews.
Although medical marijuana has been legalized in Minnesota, it is yet to make any measurable impact on the state's economy. As of December 2022, medical marijuana is not subject to sales, excise, or tobacco taxes. Due to this, there is no significant tax revenue being remitted to the state. However, in the area of job creation, the legalization of medical marijuana in Minnesota, the state has brought about the establishment of 14 Cannabis Patient Center Locations. Consequently, this has led to the creation of more jobs in the state. There are no official reports showing data on the number of jobs created or the amount of income generated in Minnesota.
A Denver-based marijuana industry consultant, who keynoted a Minneapolis conference on the impacts of legalization business and the government, estimated the economic potentials of legalizing recreational marijuana. Minnpost published an article on these estimates, detailing that marijuana has the potential of generating within five years of legalization, $1.12 billion in sales, $300 million in taxation, and creating 20,000 direct and indirect jobs.
The crime rate in Minnesota has constantly reduced since the legalization of medical marijuana in Minnesota in 2014. The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), under the Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, publishes yearly reports on the state's crime rate. In the Minnesota Crime Information - 2015 report, the crime rate for 2014 and 2015 are compared. In 2014, the year of medical marijuana legalization, 136,989 crimes were committed, and in 2015, there were 135,382 crimes. This indicates a 1.2% decrease from the crimes occurring in 2014.
Property crimes recorded in 2014 were 124,632 in number, while 122,088 property crimes were reported in 2015. This indicates a 2% decrease in property crimes committed in Minnesota. However, the case was different with violent crimes, as there was an overall increase of 7.6% in violent crimes reported in the state. In 2014, violent crimes recorded were 12,357, while in 2015, there were 13,294 total violent crimes.
As detailed in the report, the legalization of medical marijuana led to an evident increase in violent crimes in the state. There was also an increase in the rate of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) offenses recorded. In 2014, the number of DUI offenses recorded was 11,662, and this number increased to 21,017 in 2015. The number of arrests for the possession of marijuana in Minnesota was 6,837, while in 2015, the number of arrests for the possession of marijuana dropped a bit to 6,829. The arrests for the sale of marijuana in Minnesota in 2014 were 4,753, but the number dropped drastically in 2015, as 1,809 arrests for the sale of marijuana were recorded.
Minnesota experienced its first move towards marijuana legalization in 1976, during a brief wave of decriminalization in the United States. It was then that the state reduced the penalty for the possession of 42.5 grams (1.5 ounces) or less to a petty misdemeanor of a maximum $200 fine. However, medical marijuana was not legalized until May 29, 2014, when Governor Mark Dayton signed into law a bill legalizing the use of marijuana to treat Medical Cannabis Qualifying Conditions. The bill passed the House at 89 - 40 and the Senate at 46 -16. The bill became the Minnesota Medical Marijuana Act, which enacted medical cannabis legislation, making Minnesota the 23rd state to legalize.
The Minnesota Medical Marijuana Act created the Medical Cannabis Program under the Department of Health and authorized the use of medical cannabis in limited forms for certain qualifying medical conditions. The law regulated the possession, sale, distribution, and manufacture of medical cannabis and created a task force. Qualifying patients started registering for the Medical Cannabis Program on June 1, 2015, while the actual distribution of medical marijuana began July 1, 2015. Since the legalization in 2014, more qualifying conditions have been added to the list. Intractable pain was added in 2016, and PTSD was added on August 1, 2017. More additions were made on December 1, 2019, with chronic pain and age-related macular degeneration being added to the list of qualifying conditions. The changes became effective in August 2020.
On November 6, 2018, when Tim Walz was elected to the Governorship, he declared that legalizing cannabis could bring a new source of tax revenue if regulated correctly. He also mentioned that it could reduce the number of people imprisoned for drug offenses. On January 28, 2019, Senators Scott Jensen and Melisa Franzen and Representative Mike Freiberg introduced a bill authorizing people over 21 to possess, grow, and purchase cannabis in limited quantities. However, on March 8, 2019, Republicans in the Minnesota Senate voted down the measure to legalize recreational cannabis. Republicans also avoided creating a task force to study the issue further. Various proposals for recreational marijuana legalization are under consideration in the House. Some are proposals for creating a task force, similar to what Franzen proposed, and a constitutional amendment to allow voters to decide the fate of the legalization, taxation, and regulation of recreational cannabis. However, recreational cannabis remains illegal in Minnesota as of August 2021.
Cultivation of marijuana in the United States, the early 17th century.