Changes to marijuana law will help jumpstart Minnesota’s industry

Minnesota lawmakers passed several high-profile bills during the 2024 legislative session but some less-publicized provisions could have a big impact on the state’s marijuana industry.

Part of the legislation signed by Gov. Tim Walz last week included several updates to the state’s recreational marijuana law that took effect last year.

One of those updates will allow social equity applicants to start growing marijuana to sell by the end of the year so that supply is ready to meet demand when retail sales are allowed in 2025, according to the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM). Social equity business license applicants are prioritized by the new law and include people who were convicted or family members of people convicted of possessing or selling marijuana, as well as emerging farmers and residents who live in high-poverty areas.

Additionally, the updates allow those applicants more opportunities by reducing the ownership requirement from 100% to 65%, dropping the need for owners to secure a physical location before applying, and creating preapproval chances so lottery-selected applicants can be ready for market launch. The preapproval license application period will last from July 24 through Aug. 12. General license applications will open next year.

“In the weeks and months ahead, OCM’s focus will be on meeting the newly accelerated timeline the Legislature has given us to launch Minnesota’s new cannabis industry,” said OCM Interim Director Charlene Briner. “As always, OCM’s goal is to provide adults who choose to consume and medical patients access to safe, reliable cannabis products, and build a sustainable and equitable cannabis industry that will benefit our state for years to come.”

Other changes to the marijuana law include shifting oversight and enforcement authority of hemp-derived cannabinoid products to OCM starting on July 1, moving the integration of the Office of Medical Cannabis to OCM up to July 1, increasing protections for patients and caregivers in the medical cannabis program, and clarifying definitions and processes.