Starting early next week, Minnesotans will be able to legally possess and grow their own marijuana for recreational purposes, after the Minnesota Legislature approved a 300-page bill earlier this year, and Gov. Tim Walz signed it into law shortly thereafter.
At least one Minnesota tribe plans to take advantage of its sovereignty and allow sales right away. But at the same time, the state projects most legal retail sales likely won't begin until early 2025, while it creates and implements a licensing and regulatory system for the new industry.
Minnesota is the 23rd state to legalize recreational marijuana, more than a decade after Colorado and Washington did so.
Legalization followed a debate between critics who fear for the impacts on public safety and young people, and supporters who argue that prohibition of the drug had failed. Backers of the law framed legalization noted that people of color were more likely than whites to be arrested for minor offenses, and to suffer lasting consequences in employment and housing.
Farmers, like members of the public, can't legally move cannabis across state lines amid the ongoing federal ban.
So where can you legally smoke recreational cannabis? Can you grow cannabis in your home? Is it OK for Wisconsinites to buy marijuana in Minnesota and bring it back home?
Here are answers to all your questions about the new law:
Adults 21 and older can possess and travel in the state with 2 ounces of cannabis flower, 8 grams of concentrate and 800 milligrams worth of THC-containing edible products such as gummies and seltzers. They can have up to 2 pounds of cannabis flower at home.
Low-potency edibles made with THC from industrial hemp were legalized last year. They've been subject to a 10% marijuana tax since July 1. That tax will apply to other marijuana products as they become licensed for sales, but not on sovereign tribal lands.
There are 12 different business licenses a person can apply for in the adult-use market, and there are additional licenses for medical cannabis.
To be eligible to operate a business, you need to be at least 21 years old and fill out all necessary paperwork and pay license fees. It's not cheap – a cultivator license, for example, will cost $10,000 to apply, $20,000 for the initial license, and $30,000 to renew.
Costs vary depending on the operation. Smaller businesses seeking a cannabis "microbusiness" license would pay less.
There are some limits on who is allowed: You can't be a police officer or work for the state office regulating the industry, among other rules.
State officials will "score" applications and consider several factors when reviewing them, including proposed business plans, security details, experience working in related industries and more.
Bill authors say a key goal of the legislation is righting the wrongs of prohibition that have disproportionately impacted certain communities. Minnesota ranks 8th in the country for largest racial disparities when it comes to marijuana arrests, according to a ACLU report.
People convicted of cannabis possession or are residents of neighborhoods with high poverty levels are among those considered "social equity applicants," whose status will boost their score. There are also grants for communities most impacted by previous laws.
Crossing the border
It remains illegal under federal law to bring marijuana in from out of state, and that goes in both directions. However, lawmakers have been working to build support for a medical cannabis program that could win bipartisan backing.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he remains steadfastly opposed to legalizing recreational marijuana and does not want to create a medical program that would be a precursor to that. Wisconsin remains an outlier nationally, with medical marijuana legal in 38 states and recreational marijuana legal in 21.
Smoking and steering
It will remain illegal to drive in Minnesota while high on THC, the intoxicating substance in cannabis. But it isn't as simple as police officers pulling drivers over and conducting breathalyzer tests to determine if they exceed legal alcohol limits that qualify as a DWI.
THC can remain in a person's body for days or even weeks after use. Some states have set their own thresholds for impairment, which vary, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, but there is no national standard like there is for alcohol, which is .08 grams per milliliter blood-alcohol concentration.
Given these limitations, the analysis by a drug recognition evaluator – a law enforcement officer with specialized training in the symptoms of impairment – can be key for a DWI conviction.
Adults can grow up to eight plants at home, with no more than four flowering at a time. The plants must be grown in an enclosed, locked space that's not open to public view, whether that's indoors or in a garden.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture will regulate marijuana seed like it would any other, from hemp to tree seeds. They'll be subject to testing rules and labeling requirements under the state seed law.
"As a regulatory agency, we would not be preventing the sale of seed in Minnesota, whether it's produced here in Minnesota or whether it's produced somewhere else and comes into Minnesota," said Denise Thiede, who is the manager of the seed, weed, hemp and biotechnology programs at the department.
The agency will issue permits for companies to sell seed in the state. Online retailers are already selling them and that's likely where seeds will largely be purchased at the onset of legalization, she noted, and eventually they can be sold in places like Home Depot or Bachman's.
Where and where not to toke
Cannabis can be legally consumed on private property, including private homes. Eventually it will be allowed at special events where organizers have permits.
But it's still illegal to smoke or vape cannabis anywhere that tobacco smoking is prohibited, including most businesses, apartment buildings and college campuses. Nothing in the state law prohibits smoking it on a public sidewalk, but local ordinances might.
Cannabis use remains illegal in all forms while driving, in public schools, on school buses, in state prisons, and on federal property. It can't be smoked or vaped where a minor could inhale it.
Using on the clock
The new law says employers can't require a drug test to screen for cannabis as a condition of employment, with some exceptions for police officers, firefighters and child care workers, anyone needing a commercial driver's license and health care providers to name a few.
But a company can have a rule prohibiting cannabis products or use at the workplace or while using company equipment. A person can be fired for showing up high on the job, and an employer can request cannabis testing if it has reasonable suspicion someone is under the influence on company time.
Generally, Minnesota businesses can't refuse to hire someone because they use recreational marijuana off the clock.
Guns and ganja
Federal law still bars cannabis consumers from owning firearms or ammunition. That's despite Second Amendment-friendly provisions in the Minnesota law.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has said that regardless of Minnesota's new law, a "current user" of marijuana is defined as an "unlawful user" for federal purposes. That means people following state law are still prohibited from having guns and ganja.
Gun purchasers must fill out an ATF form saying whether or not they use marijuana. Lying on the form is a felony under federal law.
That warning from the ATF is concerning for Second Amendment rights advocate Rob Doar, vice president of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus. He said he's long been aware of the state-and-federal cannabis contradiction, whether it's for medical or recreational use.
Doar urges gun owners to be aware of the risks, even though under Minnesota's new law, sheriffs cannot deny someone a permit to carry solely because they are enrolled in the medical cannabis program or are an adult using marijuana.
Minor marijuana convictions, like possession of small amounts, will begin to be automatically expunged starting in August. More than 60,000 Minnesotans could benefit, but the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says the process could take up to a year to clear everyone's record.
A special Cannabis Expungement Board will be formed to review felony convictions to determine eligibility case by case.
A report by the ACLU of Minnesota found Black Minnesotans are five times more likely to get arrested for marijuana possession than white Minnesotans. They accounted for nearly one-quarter of total marijuana arrests in 2022, according to state data.
The Office of Cannabis Management will oversee the cannabis industry in Minnesota. It's starting to list job positions, with applications for the office's first executive director open through July 31.
The office will also take over the running of Minnesota's medical marijuana program, which won't be taxed.
Tribal governments will set their own rules.