MN MJ: A Primer on Minnesota’s New Marijuana Laws – Part I
Recently, Minnesota became the 23rd state to legalize recreational marijuana, or as Minnesota calls it Cannabis, starting August 1, 2023. Adult use is allowed July 1, 2023, but everything else does not start until August 1, 2023. Importantly, it does mean that cannabis is outright legal. There are limitations on quantity and usage. What exactly are the new rules and laws surrounding recreational cannabis in Minnesota?
First, cannabis is legal for adults only and specifically for those 21 years of age or older. If you are legally allowed to drink alcohol, then you will be allowed to smoke/use/consume cannabis and cannabis products. Note: No synthetic cannabinoids will be legal in the new law, even if you are 21 years of age or older.
Second, there are limitations on the amounts a person can have and where people can use it. Let’s start with how much a person can possess or transport. A person can possess or transport 2 ounces or less of adult-use cannabis flower in a public place. But if you are in your private residence, then you are allowed to have up to 2 pounds of adult-use cannabis flower. Adult-use concentrate (oil, wax, etc.) is limited at 8 grams or less; while edible cannabis products and lower-potency hemp edibles are limited to 800 milligrams or less of tetrahydrocannabinol (the actual THC in them). People over the age of 21 will be allowed to possess eight cannabis plants at a single residence, with no more than 4 being mature, flowering plants. If the plants are outside they need to be in an enclosed and locked space that is not open to public view.
People over the age of 21 can also import or buy edibles form out-of-state makers. While cannabis flower and products can be gifted to people in small quantities it cannot be sold without a license. Growing more than the allowed amount of plants or selling without a license will open people to criminal charges and civil fines. There are additional rules and criminal consequences for packaging, selling, labeling, and reporting test results of cannabis products.
Anybody 21 years of age or over can use adult-use cannabis flower in a private residence (including the curtilage or yard), on private property (not generally accessible to the public) unless the property owner explicitly prohibits it, and in establishments or events licensed for on-site consumption. This means adult-use cannabis flower cannot be used by anyone in a motor vehicle (this includes having an open container of cannabis product), or any location where smoking is already banned (restaurants, airplanes, most public locations). Additionally, the use or possession of cannabis products is not allowed in public schools, charter schools, on public transportation, in state correctional facilities, on federal land, and you cannot vaporize/smoke cannabis products in any location where the smoke, vapor, or aerosol would be inhaled by a minor.
Mirroring other Laws
In many ways the use or possession of cannabis mirrors the laws related to alcohol including possessing a pistol under the influence of cannabis, having cannabis present in your body while driving, and open container laws (with the same allowed exceptions for example using while in a limousine or having the items stored in the trunk). It will be very important for people to leave any cannabis products in their original packaging and not have open packaging in their vehicles.
While use and possession of most cannabis products is now legal, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of cannabis products, give cannabis products to a person under the age of 21, or give samples or promotional cannabis products if you are a seller of cannabis goods or services.
Part II of this series will look at controlled substance crimes evolving into possession / sale crimes for cannabis. Plus, it will include a handy-dandy chart!
Benjamin Koll is a criminal defense lawyer and DWI lawyer in the Twin Cities. Minnesota. Super Lawyers named him a Rising Star this year. He is an adjunct professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law. Drug Crimes Lawyer Minneapolis MN, Criminal Defense Attorney St. Paul MN, DWI Lawyer Minnesota.