Minnesota marijuana regulators have opened a second survey round to collect public feedback on issues related to pesticides, fertilizers and environmental controls as they work to craft rules for the state’s cannabis market. They are also touting the hundreds of responses they received from an initial survey that was focused on cultivation, processing and manufacturing.
The Minnesota Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) is planning to circulate a total of five surveys on marijuana consumer and industry topics through next month, with the aim of informing rulemaking under the state’s legalization law that was enacted earlier this year.
The office said that it received more than 700 responses to the first survey, gaining valuable perspective on how to effectively support small businesses, navigate supply chains and provide reliable lab testing services, for example.
OCM said several “themes” emerged in response to the first survey. For example, “clarity is needed regarding the role of the home grower in the larger cannabis marketplace,” it said.
Here are the other key takeaways:
There is a need for technical support for growers and processors—specifically to teach skills and methods to those new to the industry.
There is a high degree of importance to establishing cultivation businesses to supply future processing, manufacturing and retail market needs.
Access to and reliability of laboratory testing and related testing records are important for a credible and safe market.
Processing and manufacturing requirements should rely on systems-based control approaches similar to industries like food and pharmaceuticals.
Now, OCM is opening up the conversation on “testing, environmental controls, and pesticides and fertilizers,” regulators said in an email blast last week.
The survey prompts participants to select a specific category such as environmental controls, pesticides or laboratory testing and then submit answers to open-ended questions about opportunities, concerns, technical development considerations and any other issues they want regulators to keep in mind during the rulemaking process.
“OCM will gather input through surveys on a variety of topics as the agency begins drafting rules to ensure the rulemaking process is accessible to the widest possible range of community members, advocates, and partners who want to help shape how the rules are drafted,” the office said.
Future surveys will look at retail business operations and standards (December 15-28), packaging, labeling and tracking systems (December 29-January 12) and licensing and social equity considerations (January 13-26).
“OCM will offer other opportunities to be involved in the rulemaking process through in-person and virtual meetings,” the office said. “Those will be announced in the coming months.”
After OCM formally proposes the new rules, members of the public will have a chance to weigh in. That’s expected to take place sometime in the fall of next year. Lawmakers have approved OCM’s use of an expedited rulemaking process, but regulators note that “the rules may not be approved and in force until 2025.”
In the interim, adults 21 and older can already legally use, possess and grow marijuana for personal use. In August, Gov. Tim Walz (D) clarified that homegrown cannabis cannot be sold commercially.
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Minnesota’s cannabis law also allows tribes within the state to open marijuana businesses before the state begins licensing traditional retailers, and so far some tribal governments entered the legal market before state-regulated sales begin. The Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, for example, opened its medical dispensaries to adult consumers in August and announced plans to launch a mobile retail vehicle to sell marijuana at locations across the state.
The White Earth Nation tribe also launched an adult-use cannabis shop, with its governing council voting to authorize marijuana sales in July. And the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe has also moved to legalize.
OCM recently hit a noteworthy snag recently after Erin DuPree, a cannabis industry consultant that the governor picked to lead the state agency, stepped down after one day of work following a Star Tribune report that her hemp shop allegedly sold illegal products. Lab results reportedly showed elevated THC levels and the presence of banned synthetic ingredients.
In September, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the odor of marijuana, on its own, does not establish probable cause for police officers to search a vehicle.
Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura has said that he wants to get in on the action and become the “first major politician in America” to have his face on a marijuana brand.
Aside from OCM, another body created by Minnesota’s marijuana law is the Cannabis Expungement Board, which will facilitate record sealing for people with eligible marijuana convictions on their records. The review process for eligible cases began in August.
Even before the governor signed the reform bill, the state launched a website that serves as a hub for information about the new law. Officials have also already started soliciting vendors to help build a licensing system for recreational marijuana businesses.
Walz has also sharply criticized Republicans who’ve asked for a special session to address what they describe as “loopholes” in the law concerning youth possession and public consumption. And he’s welcomed adults in neighboring Iowa to visit and participate in the market.
Separately, another Minnesota law recently took effect that legalized drug paraphernalia possession, syringe services, controlled substances residue and testing.
Under another bill that the governor signed into law this session, a Minnesota government psychedelics task force is actively being built out to prepare the state for the possible legalization of substances like psilocybin and ibogaine.
That psychedelics task force held its first meeting last month, and members convened for their second discussion on Monday.
A member of Congress representing the state, Rep. Dean Phillips (D), recently announced his bid for president, challenging incumbent President Joe Biden (D). Phillips’s record on drug policy, according to a review by Marijuana Moment, reflects a consistent commitment to reform at both the state and federal levels.
Phillips has supported federal marijuana legalization, pushed the Biden administration to provide relief to those who’ve been criminalized over cannabis and advocated for research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics. His voting record shows ongoing support for reform across the board—including incremental measures on marijuana banking, as well as more comprehensive proposals to end federal cannabis prohibition while promoting social equity.
Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.
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