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This May, Minnesota lawmakers passed a bill to legalize hemp edibles infused with delta-8 and other psychoactive forms of THC. But now that the law has taken effect, some Republicans are suddenly realizing exactly what they voted for.
The new law, which just took effect on July 1, legalizes and regulates the sale of hemp-infused foods and beverages. The new regulations officially reverse the state's previous ban on non-psychoactive CBD drinks, edibles, and other popular products. But the new rules also allow businesses to sell psychoactive cannabis edibles containing delta-8 or even delta-9 THC, as long as these cannabinoids are derived from legal hemp.
Psychoactive hemp products can only be sold to adults 21 and over, and each individual edible is limited to 5mg of THC per serving, or 50mg per package - half the amount allowed in adult-use states. Most unregulated delta-8 edibles currently being sold in the state include at least 10mg per serving, though, so they will need to reduce the potency of their products to comply with the new law. The new regulations apply to any form of THC, even delta-9, which is most commonly associated with illegal marijuana.
“THC derived from hemp is the same as THC derived from marijuana,” said Michael Bronstein, president of the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp, to the Washington Post. “The Minnesota law completely inverts the concept of licensing, taxing and regulating marijuana by legalizing all types of intoxicating hemp-derived THC products, which are in some cases exactly the same as marijuana products, rivaling and perhaps surpassing the availability of these products in any adult use state.”
The bill passed the Republican-dominated state senate in May, but some lawmakers apparently didn't notice this important detail. State Sen. Jim Abeler (R) recently told the press that he thought the bill only applied to delta-8 THC, not delta-9. Other state senators have declined to say whether they actually understood the implications of the bill when they approved it. Some of the Republicans who voted for the bill are already drawing up plans to impose new restrictions on THC products.
Local activists don't believe that they will actually be able to reverse these positive policy changes, though. “The cat is out of the bag — and it’s not going back in,” said Minnesota NORML lobbyist Kurtis Hanna to Marijuana Moment.
Hanna believes the GOP will not be able to “pull back the liberties that have just been granted to Minnesotans,” even if they take control of the state house this year. Gov. Tim Walz is also a staunch supporter of full adult-use legalization, so he would likely veto any attempt to reverse the law, if re-elected.
Many US states have banned all products containing federally-legal delta-8 and other hemp-derived THC isomers, citing concerns that they are completely unregulated and easily available to minors. Minnesota and Louisiana have accepted the fact that legalization is a more effective solution to the problem than prohibition, and both of these states have chosen to legalize and regulate hemp THC edibles instead.
“Our goal was to close a legal loophole around the sale of products, ban the products from being manufactured to target youth, and create a model that would allow for limited amounts of THC in a legal way,” said the bill's author, state Rep. Heather Edelson (D), to The Washington Post. “It was clear from our work on this legislation that adult Minnesotans were already purchasing and consuming these products; our goal was to add more consumer protections.”