Minnesota Becomes 23rd State to Legalize Recreational Marijuana
Recreational marijuana is set to become legal in Minnesota starting August 1, making it the 23rd state to take this progressive step. The DFL-majority Legislature passed a law earlier this year, paving the way for the legalization of the drug for recreational use.
As of Tuesday, individuals aged 21 and older will be allowed to possess up to 2 pounds of cannabis flower for personal use at home and up to 2 ounces in public spaces. Additionally, the law permits residents to grow up to eight marijuana plants for personal use, with four of them allowed to be flowering at any given time.
Despite the legalization of recreational marijuana, the opening of licensed retail stores is not expected immediately. It may take some time before the state's Office of Cannabis Management's licensing system is fully operational, with supporters anticipating state-licensed dispensaries to start operating by early 2025.
In the meantime, Minnesotans can still access hemp-derived THC products like seltzers and gummies, which remain legal and available at various retailers and restaurants. However, these products are now subject to a 10% sales tax.
It's important to note that tribal governments have the autonomy to set their own rules, and the Red Lake Nation has already announced plans to sell recreational marijuana on its northern Minnesota reservation starting August 1.
With the legalization of marijuana in public spaces, there are certain restrictions in place. People can smoke cannabis in many public areas, such as sidewalks, parks, and restaurant patios, unless explicitly prohibited by a city ordinance. However, smoking is prohibited in rental apartments, cars, indoor public spaces, workplaces, and locations where minors may be exposed to second-hand smoke. Most colleges also plan to ban cannabis use on their campuses.
While recreational marijuana use is permitted, driving under the influence of marijuana remains illegal. Law enforcement is exploring methods to effectively assess impairment due to cannabis use. A pilot program will ask drivers suspected of marijuana use to voluntarily provide a saliva sample, although the results won't be admissible in court.
The new law also brings changes to employment practices. Mandatory drug testing for cannabis use as a condition of employment will no longer be required at many workplaces. However, some professions, including doctors, peace officers, firefighters, teachers, and jobs requiring a commercial driver's license, may still be subject to pre-employment screening. Companies may also conduct tests for workers suspected of violating company policies.
Moreover, the law aims to expunge low-level marijuana offenses from the records of more than 60,000 Minnesotans automatically. The process is expected to take up to a year, according to The Associated Press.
As Minnesota embraces the era of legal recreational marijuana, it brings both opportunities and challenges for the state and its residents. Responsible use and clear communication about the law's implications will be crucial as Minnesotans adapt to this significant change in drug policy.