Come Aug. 1, adults 21 and older will be able to consume all forms of recreational cannabis.
But neither may be readily available in all communities across the south metro anytime soon.
Legalization of recreational cannabis in all forms, expected to be signed into law by Gov. Tim Walz, allows for communities to place temporary moratoriums banning the sale of cannabis until Jan. 1, 2025, along with allowing municipalities to put in temporary ordinances.
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While possessing cannabis will no longer be illegal starting Aug. 1, and adults will be able to begin growing up to eight plants at home for personal use, dispensaries aren’t likely to be open for over a year.
Last July, state legislation went into effect which clarified federally legal hemp-derived THC products could be sold. The law said edible products which contain less than .3% THC, five milligrams per serving and up to 50 milligrams per container can be sold to adults 21 and older.
Those retail dosage limits will remain in effect under the new law.
“I’m proud of the communities that have worked on this issue for decades,” said state Rep. Jess Hanson, DFL-Burnsville, following the bipartisan support vote on May 19. “Starting as a legalization advocate and now an elected member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, I know the amount of time and energy spent to organize and educate our government around the harms of prohibition and the benefits of legalization.
“As we move forward, we must stay involved with our government to ensure this is a responsible market accountable to the needs of small businesses and consumers. I’m thankful for this bill, and I look forward to continuing the work.”
Will cities continue moratoriums?
On the front of Green Leaf Depot in Savage, a sign is hung up on the glass of the storefront advertising the sale of delta-8, -9 and other THC products derived from hemp.
But despite being open since September, the store hasn’t been able to sell the products at all after the city council placed a one year moratorium on the sale of THC products in September. For now, the store is selling CBD and other products.
Legislation from last July allowed individual communities to put up to one year temporary moratorium in place, which Savage did in September.
In an interview May 22, Pease said he is excited to see the process going forward and said he expects it to not take very long to have products in place once regulations are settled.
He said his business has received numerous inquiries from venders interested in having products sold at Green Leaf Depot, and oftentimes the vendors were “shell-shocked” to find out there was a moratorium in place.
“It’s nice to see things are in motion, of course, and things are in process… it is exciting times and I think Minnesota is happy for it, too,” Pease said.
Jordan also has a temporary ban on hemp-derived edible products; however, the city council grandfathered in Strains of the Earth which was selling products before the ordinance was considered.
In Carver County, Chaska, Chanhassen, and the city of Carver are all currently without THC ordinances, and none have moratoriums in place. Businesses are currently operating in Chaska, Victoria and Carver.
No future bans
Unlike some states, Minnesota won’t have any opt out options for communities to ban cannabis outright.
State Sen. Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake, said more control should’ve been given to local communities.
“Some of the more troubling parts of the new Minnesota law are the limits placed on cities in making decisions regarding cannabis retailing businesses,” Pratt said in an email.
One provision in the legislation allows for municipalities to limit the number of cannabis businesses to one per every 12,500 residents.
But Pratt argued there aren’t any minimum requirements for the number of businesses required for other industries. He said based on population Shakopee, would be required to have up to three stores, and Prior Lake and Savage will need two.
“Regardless of whether you support legalization or not, we should allow local communities to address both the direct and indirect impacts of allowing cannabis dispensaries, including how many and where they should be allowed to operate,” Pratt said.
Cannabis businesses will also need to meet local zoning and other land use laws, and local communities can put in measures like prohibiting the businesses from being within certain distances of a school, daycare, residential treatment facility or public facilities frequented by minors like public playgrounds and parks.
Eye on the future
While most communities in Scott County don’t have any legally operating cannabis businesses, Strains of the Earth has been able to sell in Jordan for almost a year after the city granted an exemption from the moratorium.
Jim Cramond opened another store in January, across the river in the city of Carver, which has no regulations on cannabis products.
Cramond said his plan is to move forward with applying for a license to sell recreational cannabis as soon as license applications become available.
“Ever since we’ve gotten into the industry, this certainly has been a goal of ours,” Cramond said.
Unlike some businesses, Strains of the Earth is sectioned off by product. In Jordan, the business sells CBD, mushrooms and hemp-derived THC products; however, they are all sectioned off and have different entrances. In the future, Cramond said he wants to add a fourth division of the company which would focus on plant-based medicine.
Cramond said the benefit of his approach is it allows his staff to direct customers on what is recommended for them based on what information is provided by the customer. For example, a customer may be looking to purchase THC edibles, but staff at the store may recommend CBD instead.
“We just want to give you what truly assists you, the individual, so you don’t have to guess we are going to assist you with proper products,” Cramond said.
In addition to his stores in Jordan and Carver, Cramond said he’s also looking to expand to higher populated areas but wouldn’t comment on which locations he has his eyes on just yet.