Education is key as cannabis becomes legal Aug. 1 – Brainerd Dispatch

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BRAINERD — On Tuesday, Aug. 1, Minnesotans will legally be allowed to smoke, possess and grow cannabis as the state adopts its new stance on what is legal in the state.

The 321-page bill has many changes, but buying and smoking cannabis in the state will come with many new laws and restrictions residents should know before they decide to partake in recreational cannabis.

Crow Wing County Sheriff Eric Klang said changes to existing law and enforcement of new laws pose a particular challenge for law enforcement.

“This has definitely been challenging for law enforcement,” Klang said. “I’ve been in this profession a long time and it’s always been a no. We’ve always cited and investigated people who had marijuana. And so it’s going to be a definite shift/change in how we do business.”

On

June 12

and

July 24

, the League of Minnesota Cities published guidance to assist cities around the state with understanding the bill.

The League of Minnesota Cities is billed as a membership organization with 800 cities across the state that promotes excellence in local government through advocacy, education and training, policy development, risk management and other services.

A new law means new ways of doing things, including educating officers and the public on the law, said Clayton Barg, interim commander of Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office drug task force, Lakes Area Drug Investigative Division.

“The biggest thing is, ensuring that you’re educated, doing a bit of research as far as what they can and can’t have,” Barg said. “Again, it’s not a blanket, ‘Marijuana is legal, I can have as much of it as I want,’ you know? There are stipulations as far as how much they can have at any given time, either in a vehicle or at home. People need to make sure that they’re aware of what those laws are.”

Though it will be legal to possess, grow and use on Aug. 1, the sale of cannabis flower and high-dosage edibles without a license will not be legal.

Those licenses will not be available until about

January 2025 at the earliest

, except for tribal nations, as the state is still in the process of setting up the

Office of Cannabis Management

which will issue the licenses.

Any non-medical sales attempted until licenses are issued are illegal. This does not apply to low-dosage edible cannabinoid products regulated under

Minnesota Statutes, section 151.72

.

The Dispatch reported Baxter City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday, July 18, to allow a RISE medical cannabis dispensary in the city of Baxter.

“Crow Wing County has the highest number of registered medical patients in the entire state of Minnesota, totaling roughly 4,000 patients,”

RISE reported in written

documents to the city of Baxter.

During the meeting, Community Development Director Josh Doty told staff, “the applicant has been forthright about the fact that they would pursue the adult use sales within their facility but would still continue to operate a medical cannabis dispensary at this location.”

According to the Minnesota cannabis website, the changes as outlined in law and effective Aug. 1, 2023, a person age 21 or older may:

  • Use, possess, or transport cannabis paraphernalia.
  • Possess or transport up to 2 ounces of cannabis flower in a public place.
  • Possess up to 2 pounds of cannabis flower in a person’s private residence.
  • Possess or transport up to 8 grams of adult-use concentrate. 
  • Possess or transport edible cannabis products or lower-potency hemp edibles infused with a combined 800 milligrams or less of THC.
  • Give away cannabis flower and products to a person 21 or older in an amount legal for a person to possess in public.

The law states smoking cannabis will be allowed outside anywhere smoking it isn’t prohibited by the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act by a person at least 21-years-old, unless their city passes or has an existing ordinance prohibiting its public use.

Cities may not prohibit the possession, transportation, or use of cannabis authorized by the new law. The law protects cannabis use on private property, private residences and at places with approved licenses or an event permit.

Therefore cities can limit the use of cannabis outside of the three protected areas. Local laws should be checked before recreational use.

No moratorium has been passed in Brainerd or Baxter. But that does not mean it can be used by everyone anywhere they want.

Smoking or vaping adult-use cannabis products is prohibited by law in any multifamily housing building and cannabis cannot be used when operating a motor vehicle.Col. Matt Langer, chief of the Minnesota State Patrol, spoke at a

Minnesota Department of Public Safety news conference

July 25, stating those who are pulled over and found to be under the influence of any substance, including cannabis, will be charged with a DWI.

And just like alcohol, no passenger in the vehicle is exempt. All cannabis needs to be properly stored in the vehicle.

The law also states cannabis cannot be used or possessed in any public or charter school and on any school bus, in any state correctional facility, in any area where the smoke or vapor of a cannabis product could be inhaled by a minor, and on federal property such as courthouses, airports and national parks.

The law does exclude the following positions from the law’s changes:

  1. A

    safety-sensitive position

    .

  2. A peace officer position.
  3. A firefighter position.
  4. A position requiring face-to-face care, training, education, supervision, counseling, consultation, or medical assistance to:

    1. Children.
    2. Vulnerable adults

      .

    3. Patients who receive health care services from a provider for the treatment, examination, or emergency care of a medical, psychiatric, or mental condition.
  5. A position funded by a federal grant.
  6. Any other position for which state or federal law requires testing of a job applicant or employee for cannabis.
  7. A position requiring a commercial driver’s license or requiring an employee to operate a motor vehicle for which state or federal law requires drug or alcohol testing of a job applicant or employee.

The changes to the law will not be noticeable to patients of medical cannabis. In 2025, the Office of Cannabis Management will begin to oversee the medical cannabis market.

Possession and transportation

In August, to avoid violation of the new open package law,

cannabis products should be stored in the trunk

of the vehicle or in another area of the vehicle not normally occupied by the driver and passengers.

A utility compartment or glove compartment is deemed to be within the area occupied by the driver and passengers.

Transportation by those at least 21 years old is limited to 2 ounces of flower, 8 grams of concentrate or 800 milligrams or less of THC edibles in any public space.

Similar to alcohol, transportation in the trunk of a vehicle would not be required if the contents are unopened in the original packaging from the retailer, but that will not be until at least 2025.

“It’s going to be interesting to see and we’re going to still do business as usual if we see something,” Klang said. “You can’t just be waving a bag of marijuana out the window at us, laughing as you drive by.

“If we smell marijuana in the car, we don’t know if it smells like 2 ounces or 10 pounds. So that’s not going to change how we do that. … I just see it as it’s just going to be a hassle.”

Though residents will not be able to buy ready-to-use recreational products until at least 2025, buying seeds and growing your own plants will be legal Aug. 1 with the new law. Those looking to grow cannabis will be limited to how many plants they can cultivate and where they will be allowed to grow them.

The law authorizes a person to cultivate up to eight cannabis plants, of which four or fewer may be mature, flowering plants provided that they are in an enclosed, locked space that is not open to public view.

In 2022,

High Times reported

that thanks to a 2018 Farm Bill that legalized hemp seeds that contain less than .03% delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, the

DEA acknowledged

seeds meet the definition of hemp and are therefore not a controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act.

The letter concludes as most seeds contain less than .03% delta-9 THC, they are considered hemp and are not regulated as a Schedule 1 controlled substance.

Seeds in

Minnesota already have regulations

controlling their packaging and are required to be labeled with the kind of seed — hemp or marijuana, the variety, lot number, net weight, packed or sell-by date along with the labelers name and address.

A seed that produces plants with a delta-9 THC concentration of less than 0.3% on a dry weight basis are defined as hemp. Seeds that produce plants with a delta-9 THC concentration of more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis are defined as marijuana.

The new law will authorize cities to operate a municipal cannabis retail store if they so choose.

Crow Wing County currently has two municipal liquor stores which would be eligible for sales of edible cannabinoid products with the passing of the new law.

Nisswa and Fifty Lakes currently operate municipal liquor stores.

TIM SPEIER, staff writer, can be reached on Twitter

@timmy2thyme

, call 218-855-5859 or email

tim.speier@brainerddispatch.com

.





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