‘Massive undertaking’ underway to regulate Minnesota’s legal edibles market

Enforcing legal cannabis products

Enforcing legal cannabis products

Hemp-derived products containing low levels of THC became legal in 2022. Up until recently, the state didn’t have any full-time inspectors to make sure sellers followed the law, creating what some have called the “Wild West” of edible sales.

Minnesota now has one inspector for THC edibles and beverages through the new Office of Medical Cannabis, but there are more than 2,300 registered businesses that sell them across the state, data from the Minnesota Department of Health shows.

Chris Tholkes, director of the Office of Medical Cannabis, says she is learning how to cover a lot of ground from other regulatory agencies.

“Alcohol Gambling Enforcement Division — they go out and do this as well with liquor stores and alcohol sales,” Tholkes said. “They have a great, refined model where they send out teams regionally and they can do a lot of inspections in a short amount of time.”

Tholkes says of the 70 or so businesses her office has inspected so far, about 90% have not been compliant with the laws.

“So, it might have been the product. They might have been over the limit of milligrams that are allowable. But, it also could have been a labeling thing. Or it could have been they didn’t have the product in a locked case or behind the counter,” she said.

Those who follow the rules while selling hemp-derived THC say they welcome increased enforcement from the state.

“That’s what makes this so difficult for businesses trying to do it right and there are businesses, right?” said Jennifer Schmitz, owner of Mainstream CBD in Lakeville. “And, you know, we just need that level playing field out there.”

Schmitz says those who cheat selling the edibles and beverages undercut legitimate businesses like hers.

“They’ll just leave our store and, you know, go to someone that isn’t selling something legal because that’s what they want,” she said.