Cannabis cultivation in Stearns County is legal if done exclusively for medical use by virtue of Statutes §§152.22-152.37 of the State of Minnesota. The Medical Cannabis Program is managed by the Office of Medical Cannabis under the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) as the regulatory and licensing body for medical cannabis in the state. Medical cannabis in the State of Minnesota is also governed by the Minnesota Administrative Rules Chapter 4770.
To cultivate medical cannabis in Stearns County, a company must apply to the MDH for a medical cannabis manufacturer license. This is the single license that covers medical cannabis crop cultivation, product manufacturing, and the retail selling of medical cannabis and its products. Minnesota Statutes §§152.29 requires any licensed medical cannabis facility to be more than 1,000 feet from any school.
Minnesota Administrative Rules 4770.1700 requires that all medical cannabis cultivation be done in an area with restricted access. Minnesota Administrative Rules 4770.0200 defines this as a room or building, and, therefore, indoors, where individuals below the age of 21 must not be allowed to enter. Minnesota Administrative Rules 4770.1300 mandates that licensed medical cannabis facilities post conspicuous signage on all entrances that warn about this age restriction and the fact that the entire premises are under continuous recorded video surveillance.
All licensed medical cannabis facilities are obligated to have an inventory management system keeping daily logs of medical cannabis plants and products, with records kept for not less than five years. Every plant or product must have a designated batch number for monitoring.
The licensed medical cannabis facility must have a quality assurance program and observe hygiene to prevent all types of contamination from pests, bacteria, fungi, molds, mildew, rot, and harmful chemicals. Samples from every batch of their plants or products must be tested, according to Minnesota Administrative Rules 4770.1900 through 4770.2400, by an MDH-approved laboratory.
Samples from batches that pass the test must be kept further for five years beyond the expiration date to account for any necessary testing in the future. Batches of samples that fail the test must be completely discarded. Proper management of medical cannabis waste is the responsibility of the licensed medical cannabis facility.
Specific to medical cannabis cultivation, the growing area must have an open aisle for easy daily crop inspections. The licensed medical cannabis cultivator may only apply the safest pesticides that have the approval of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use on crops meant for human consumption.
Cannabis manufacturing in Stearns County is legal exclusively for medical cannabis products as mandated by the State of Minnesota’s Statutes §§152.22-152.37. To manufacture medical cannabis products in Stearns County, a company needs to apply to the MDH for the same medical cannabis manufacturer license that cultivators have to apply for.
Licensed medical cannabis product processing must also be done indoors and has the same location, security, inventory, quality, and testing requirements discussed previously as applicable to all licensed medical cannabis facilities.
Specific to medical cannabis manufacturing, hydrocarbon-based medical cannabis extraction with the use of alcohol, ethanol, butane, and hexane is prohibited by Minnesota Administrative Rules 4770.1700.
Medical cannabis products must uniformly adhere to the required cannabis concentrations. For example, the requirement for medical cannabis pre-rolls is to have not more than one gram of dried cannabis.
Minnesota Statutes §§152.29 mandates that all packaging of medical cannabis must comply with the United States Poison Prevention Packing Act and support the shelf life of the product. Containers must be plain and unappealing to children, child-safe, and tamper-resistant, but easy for the elderly to manage. Approval from the MDH is needed for any brand name.
All medical cannabis package labels must contain:
The licensed medical cannabis manufacturer’s name and address
The medical cannabis crop and product batch numbers
The ingredients and chemical content of the product
The year the product was manufactured
The recommended dosage for the product
The instructions for the use of the product
Specific warnings that the State of Minnesota requires
For every finished item, the licensed medical cannabis manufacturer must submit to the MDH a specification list before the item can be sent to the licensed dispensary within the state. Minnesota Administrative Rules 4770.0400 prohibits the production of medical cannabis for use across state lines.
Any medical cannabis product returned to the licensed manufacturer due to having issues must be kept in a locked space before being incinerated.
Cannabis retail in Stearns County is legal exclusively for the sale of medical cannabis and its products by licensed medical cannabis dispensaries to patients and their caregivers enrolled in the Minnesota Medical Cannabis Registry. This is stipulated by Statutes §§152.22-152.37 of the State of Minnesota. A company is required to have a medical cannabis manufacturer license from the MDH to do this. All previously discussed location, security, inventory, quality, and testing requirements for licensed medical cannabis manufacturer licensees apply.
Each medical cannabis manufacturer licensee is permitted to operate up to eight medical cannabis dispensaries, with each dispensary employing a licensed pharmacist. A licensed dispensary can sell medical cannabis topicals, powders, granules, sprinkles, sublingual tablets, buccal tablets, lozenges, mints, gums, dried cannabis flower, and infused edible products such as chews and gummies. Any medical cannabis product meant for smoking may be sold only to registered patients aged 21 and older and their caregivers. Minnesota Administrative Regulation 4770.0400 prohibits the consumption or use of medical cannabis on the premises of licensed dispensaries.
A licensed medical cannabis dispensary is required to check the valid government-issued photo ID of the patient or caregiver against the online Medical Cannabis Registry and the patient’s physician’s certification before every sale. Each patient can only be sold a 90-day supply of medical cannabis every 90 days based on the dosage indicated in the certification. After each sale, the licensed dispensary must record on the online Medical Cannabis Registry the patient’s name, registry number, birth date, and address. If a caregiver made the purchase, the caregiver’s name and birth date must be added.
It is not legal to deliver even medical cannabis to registered patients and their caregivers in Stearns County according to the State of Minnesota’s Statutes §§152.22-152.37.
Minnesota Administrative Rules 4770.0400 only allows licensed dispensaries to sell medical cannabis and medical cannabis products inside their facilities. They are only allowed to do curbside selling to registered patients and caregivers if the following conditions are strictly met:
There must be a designated area closest to the facility entrance where the patient or caregiver will wait in their vehicle.
The licensed dispensary employee must first ask for the valid government-issued photo ID of the patient or caregiver and check this against the online Medical Cannabis Registry.
A consultation with the licensed dispensary’s pharmacist, if necessary, must be done before the purchase.
The licensed dispensary’s surveillance cameras must cover all movements of the licensed dispensary staff from the taking of the items from storage to the handover of the items to the patient or caregiver and the receipt of payment.
The licensed dispensary staff must promptly bring the payment inside the facility.
Security must be tight throughout each curbside transaction.
Details of all curbside transactions must be logged on the online Medical Cannabis Registry.
No physical medical cannabis card is issued by the Medical Cannabis Registry of the State of Minnesota. Instead, residents of Stearns County may register online as patients or caregivers to be included in the registry. They must then show a valid photo ID issued by the government whenever they purchase from a licensed medical cannabis dispensary.
To qualify for application, a patient must be diagnosed by a state-licensed health practitioner to have any of the following illnesses:
Terminal illness with a life expectancy of less than a year
Sickle cell disease
Chronic motor or vocal tic disorder
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Post-traumatic stress disorder
DSM-5 Autism spectrum disorder
Inflammatory bowel disease
Severe and persistent muscle spasms
Obstructive sleep apnea
Added effective August 1, 2023 are:
Irritable bowel syndrome
The health practitioner will send a certification of the patient’s diagnosis and the patient’s identification details, including the patient’s email address, to the Office of Medical Cannabis. The patient will then receive an email containing a link for the online application. The patient must complete the application not more than 60 days after receiving the email. If the patient is a minor or an adult who requires assistance, a caregiver may be named in the patient’s application along with the caregiver’s email address. The caregiver will be sent an email with a link for a caregiver application.
The $200 application fee may be discounted to $50 for beneficiaries of the following:
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
More information may be sought from the following:
Minnesota Department of Health
P.O. Box 64975
St. Paul, MN 55164-0975
Office of Medical Cannabis
PO Box 64882
St Paul, MN 55164-0882
Neither Stearns County nor the State of Minnesota earns tax revenues from the legalization of medical cannabis because, according to the Minnesota Department of Revenue, general sales taxes are not levied on medical cannabis.
In 2021, House Bill No. 600 proposed that adult-use cannabis be legalized in the state. A study of the Bill released by the Minnesota Department of Revenue shows that the state would have earned a total of $14.5 million in FY 2023 from the proposal’s 10% gross receipts tax on adult-use cannabis added to the state sales tax of 6.875% and the standard business taxes. This would have increased to $66 million in FY 2024, and $98.9 million in FY 2025.
Medical cannabis was legalized in May 2014 in Stearns County but retail sales of medical cannabis began statewide in July 2015.
Data from the Stearns County Sheriff's Office on the FBI’s Crime Explorer page shows that a year before medical cannabis retail sales began, in 2014, there were 104 marijuana offense arrests, with 62 for possession and 42 for manufacturing or sales.
A year after medical cannabis retail sales began, in 2016, there were 59 marijuana offense arrests, with 56 for possession and three for manufacturing or sales.
In the latest available data, in 2021, there were 94 marijuana offense arrests, with 92 for possession and two for manufacturing or sales.
The following were the DUI arrests in those years:
2014: 276 arrests
2016: 269 arrests
2021: 211 arrests