Cannabis Legalization in Minnesota: Where Do We Stand?

Cannabis legalization has been a hot topic among Minnesotans as of late, among politicians and private citizens alike. Despite recreational marijuana being off the table for now, reform efforts are continuing. A bill, which would have put the state on a path to adult-use, was defeated 6-3 last week by the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.

“I think Minnesota can get this right,” Governor Tim Walz told the Star-Tribune. “I think we can address the concerns and at the same time [recognize] that prohibition has failed.”

Gov. Walz, along with other pro-legalization legislators, have vowed to forge on. However, Hennepin County’s top prosecutor has taken the issue into his own hands. County Attorney Mike Freeman stated this week that individuals caught possessing or selling under 100 grams of cannabis will not be charged. Instead, they will be directed to a diversion program or community service. Current state law considers 42.5 grams and less to be a petty misdemeanor, while anything above is a felony.

Minneapolis police were quick to respond to Freeman’s measure, reminding the public that while a low priority, marijuana possession is still an arrestable offense.

“It’s our job to enforce the laws on the books,” said police spokesman John Elder.

Meanwhile, an online petition launched earlier this month calling for the addition of vaporizable flower to Minnesota’s medical marijuana program is gaining traction. According to an op-ed penned by Dr. Kyle Kingsley, CEO of Vireo Health (one of two licensed producers in the state), the only way to increase patient access and reduce overall costs is to permit the production and sale of flower. Right now, Minnesota’s program only allows cannabis extracts, tinctures, and topicals and is considered one of the least successful nationwide.

“Minnesota is now the only state among the 30 with viable medical cannabis laws that does not allow plant material of some type to be utilized directly by patients,” Dr. Kingsley wrote. “This single policy change will bring an affordable treatment option to the hundreds of thousands of patients with chronic pain and other qualifying conditions across Minnesota who currently see chronically prescribed opioids or black-market marijuana as the viable alternatives.”