Minnesota Governor Tim Walz just signed a comprehensive adult-use cannabis bill into law, making the Land of 10,000 Lakes the 23rd US state to legalize weed.
The new law closely mirrors the adult-use legislation enacted in 22 other states, for the most part. Adults will be legally allowed to possess and buy weed at licensed retail stores, and the state will automatically expunge specific misdemeanor cannabis offenses starting in August. The law will also create a Cannabis Expungement Board that will consider granting clemency to felony cannabis offenders or reducing prison time for those who are still incarcerated for weed.
“What we know right now is prohibition does not work,” Gov. Walz said at the bill's signing ceremony, according to CNN. “We’ve criminalized a lot of folks. We’re going to start the expungement process on those records. We have a situation where buying cannabis on the streets is dangerous.”
The first phase of legalization will begin on August 1st. On that date, adults over the age of 21 will be allowed to carry up to two ounces of weed on their person and store up to two pounds at home. Adults are also authorized to grow up to eight pot plants at home, although only 4 can be mature at any given time. Gifting up to 2 ounces is also legal, but the law contains provisions to prevent people from giving away “free” weed in exchange for token purchases.
The law also sets up a framework for taxed and regulated sales, but Minnesotans shouldn't expect to start buying legal weed anytime soon. Officials predict that it will take them between 12 to 18 months to draft retail sales regulations, license businesses, and get stores open to the public. Other states have bypassed this lengthy process by allowing existing medical marijuana businesses to start selling recreational pot. Minnesota will eventually allow medical pot companies to apply for adult-use licenses, but not until 2025.
“It’s going to take us a bit of time to get this up and going. We’ll be getting some people into the positions to be able to run this,” Walz said, according to Marijuana Moment. “But I assure Minnesotans that a lot of thought has gone into this. A lot of the things learned in other states are incorporated into how we do this, and the thoughtfulness around this legislation gives us a really good guiding principle.”
The new law also has a handful of unique twists that set it apart from other adult-use states. For one, Minnesota will not allow local municipalities to opt out of legal weed sales. Local government officials can delay the rollout of pot shops, and can limit the total number of pot businesses based on the population of their jurisdiction, though. And in another unusual move, the state will allow municipalities and counties to open their own government-run pot shops.
“This bill creates a safe, well-regulated legal marketplace, and includes best practices for consumer protection, health, and public safety,” said state Rep. Zack Stephenson (D), who sponsored the House version of the bill, CNN reports. “It also prioritizes a robust expungement program, so people who have been disproportionately impacted by our current cannabis laws can move on with their lives. It is time for legalization, and I’m proud to carry this bill forward.”