Minnesota Marijuana Regulators Take First Step Toward Setting Rules For Legal Market

Minnesota Marijuana Regulators Take First Step Toward Setting Rules For Legal Market

Regulators in Minnesota are seeking public input as they begin the process of crafting rules for the state’s new marijuana industry, hoping to hear from “the widest possible range of community members, advocates, and partners who want to help shape how the rules are drafted.”

To collect those views, the state’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) on Monday released a new online survey that includes questions on cannabis cultivation, processing and manufacturing.

“The first topic areas reflect the necessary industry components to help ensure the state can meet supply and demand once the market opens,” the agency said.

The initial survey will be available for responses through November 30, with OCM saying that it “wants to hear from a wide range of people throughout this rulemaking process.”

After opening the feedback form and providing basic information, commenters can leave comments on cultivation, processing or manufacturing issues by selecting that choice on a dropdown menu. After answering questions on one topic, users an either submit their responses or choose another of the three topics to weigh on in.

Under each topic, respondents are prompted to detail what they see as opportunities, concerns and technical or practical set-up considerations that regulators should be mindful of as they launch the process of drafting rules.

Other issues to be addressed through OCM rulemaking include social equity considerations, laboratory testing, packaging and labeling rules, track and trace systems, the use of pesticides and fertilizers as well as environmental controls, such as limiting water and energy use and controlling odor.

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.

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.

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.

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Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

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