The Future of Cannabis in Minnesota

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Today, Tuesday April 25th, the Minnesota House approved legislation for the legalization of adult-use cannabis in Minnesota. The bill would make Minnesota the 23rd state to do so and the third in the Midwest.

 “We wanted to make sure that we prioritized the issues of who has been hurt by this failed war on drugs and how we can make right with this. And so we talk about expungement for people who are locked up for crimes. We know that white folks using cannabis are not locked up at the same rate that black folks are and that the incarceration rates there are so much higher. So we knew that we needed to deal with this in a criminal justice reform way, not just legalizing it,” said Rep. Liz Olson (DFL), State Representative of Minnesota.

The bill creates the Office of Cannabis Management, which will supervise the regulation of cannabis, cannabis products, hemp edibles, and hemp-derived consumer products. This will help address inequities in the criminal justice system throughout the criminal prohibition of cannabis.  The legislation also provides for automatic expungement of prior petty misdemeanor and misdemeanor marijuana convictions and creates a Cannabis Expungement Board to review other cannabis convictions and determine whether a person is eligible for expungement.

This legislation also will direct the Department of Employment and Economic Development to provide grants to nonprofit corporations to subsidize startup loans to new cannabis microbusinesses, and help cannabis businesses start and train employees.

“We wanted to make sure that we’re growing this industry and that it’s homegrown, right? That it’s based in our communities, that we don’t just have large corporations coming in from out of state to do this, that we wanted to incentivize our own communities, especially our BIPOC communities to really be at the heart of this,” finishes Olson.

The bill is currently moving through the legislative process in the Minnesota Senate.