Cannabis law updates considered at Capitol

Cannabis law updates considered at Capitol

Cannabis law updates considered at Capitol

The landmark bill legalizing recreational marijuana last year could get some updates less than a year after it was passed and implemented in 2023. That was always part of the plan as lawmakers got a better idea of changes and updates that might be needed.

One bill considered in the House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee on Monday would increase the number of marijuana plants that can be grown at home without a license from eight to 16, but only if you’re on the state’s medical cannabis registry. 

“I don’t think we all necessarily realized who we were leaving out of our home grow program because growing cannabis at home requires such strict routines and patterns and upkeep, and it’s a very delicate process,” Rep. Jessica Hanson, DFL-Burnsville, said while introducing her bill. She also pointed out the materials needed can be very expensive.

Under her bill, not only is the number of plants allowed increased, but the medical cannabis patient can also transfer that right to more plants to a caregiver. It’s a change supported by the author of the original cannabis bill last year.

“This bill allows people who are in the medical program to have more plants and to assign their plants to their caregiver,” said Rep. Zack Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids. “There’s no way to assign your plants to someone else under current law.”

One medical cannabis patient and advocate says she’s benefited from a similar program in Michigan.

“I’ve been a medical cannabis patient in the state of Michigan and a patient using their caregiver program since 2021,” Kayla Fearing testified. “I have seen the success of [their] cannabis caregiver program.”

Other bills were also heard in committee, including one that further restricts the packaging of cannabis products aimed at kids and prohibits flavored cannabis products that can be burned or inhaled, including vaping products.

“From our perspective, this bill is about public health and health equity,” says Emily Myatt of the American Cancer Society Action Network. “We’re sending a message as a state that bad actors in the cannabis industry can’t sell flavored cannabis products that are burned or inhaled.”

As for when a director of the Office of Cannabis Management will be named, Gov. Tim Walz said over the weekend in an interview on “At Issue with Tom Hauser” that a decision should come soon. 

“It’s not slowing things down,” he says about having the office run by an interim director. “We are closer to this. The work is being done. We have to get it done right. I’m more concerned about getting it done right. I think we’ll have an answer here shortly.”

His first appointee, Erin DuPree, withdrew shortly after she was announced in September after questions were raised about unpaid taxes and how she ran her own cannabis business.