States that have both a medical marijuana law and have removed jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana
Last update: February 02, 2023
Minnesota Legislature could legalize this session!
On January 17, 2023, Minnesota state Sen. Lindsey Port (DFL) and Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL) introduced twin bills to legalize and regulate cannabis for adults 21 and older in Minnesota — SF 73 and HF 100. HF 100 has already passed out of two House committees, and SF 73 has been scheduled for its first hearing.
Although the Minnesota House passed a similar bill in 2021 after more than a dozen committees reviewed it, this is the first time Minnesota’s had a Senate majority that is open to legalization. The Senate will also have a lengthy committee process, and it has not scheduled any hearings yet.
Minnesota’s 250-page bill includes home cultivation, provisions designed to promote equity, funding for substance abuse education and treatment, and cannabis training and start-up assistance, with a focus on assisting social equity applicants. You can check out our one-page summary here.
While Minnesota is in the best position it’s ever been in for legalization, we can’t take anything for granted. Several states have moved slower on legalization than expected, even with supportive leadership in the legislature and governor’s mansion.
Minnesota Legislature Passes Omnibus Bill that Regulates THC- Infused Products
Last year’s Republican majority blocked legalization in the Senate, but there was one area of significant reform in the 2022 legislature: The legislature and governor approved an omnibus bill (HF4065) that includes provisions to clearly legalize and to regulate hemp-derived edible and drinkable products infused with cannabinoids. It allows edibles with up to 5 grams of THC per serving and up to 50 grams per package.
This year’s legalization bills, HF 100 and SF 73, would add additional licensing and regulatory safeguards for lower-THC products.
Minnesota Cannabis Laws: “Decriminalization” and Medical Cannabis, but No Legalization
The Land of 10,000 Lakes has a decades-old “decriminalization” law in place — which made the penalty for possession of up to 42.5 grams of cannabis punishable by a fine, not jail time. Meanwhile, in 2014, then-Governor Mark Dayton signed into law a medical cannabis program after insisting on modifications that made it extremely restrictive. Thanks to the work of advocates and the openness of regulators, however, the program has improved substantially.
Local advocates, often with assistance from MPP, have petitioned the Minnesota Office of Medical Cannabis to add qualifying conditions. As a result, the program has slowly expanded. The state added intractable pain in 2015, followed PTSD in 2016, obstructive sleep apnea and autism in 2017, Alzheimer’s disease in 2018, chronic pain in 2019, and sickle cell disease and chronic motor or vocal tic disorder in 2021.
In May 2021, the legislature and Gov. Tim Walz approved allowing raw/ flower cannabis — including smoking — for adults 21 and older and expanded caregiver provisions. Unfortunately, the legislature has not expanded the number of medical cannabis businesses. The entire state is served by only two manufacturers, each of which have four dispensary locations.
Legalization would create tens of thousands of desperately needed jobs and hundreds of millions in tax revenue, and it would reduce unnecessary stops, searches, and arrests that unfairly and unequally target Black Minnesotans. A 2020 ACLU report shows Minnesota has the eighth worst racial disparities in the nation, with Black individuals 5.4 times as likely to be arrested for cannabis possession as whites, despite nearly identical use rates.
This year is an election year for the Minnesota’s entire state legislature and the governor. Ask your candidates for state House and Senate if they support legalizing cannabis for adults-use. Primary day is August 9.
Although Minnesota’s cannabis laws are not as harsh as some states, they lag behind public opinion. Voters want cannabis to be legal for adults .
Legalization would generate hundreds of millions in tax revenue, and it would reduce unnecessary stops, searches, and arrests that unfairly and unequally target Black Minnesotans. A 2020 ACLU report shows Minnesota has the eighth worst racial disparities in the nation, with Black individuals 5.4 times as likely to be arrested for cannabis possession as white individuals, despite nearly identical use rates.
To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Minnesota, be sure to subscribe to MPP's alerts, if you haven't done so already.