Quirk in law means marijuana is legal to possess in 2023 with no legal sales until 2025
There’s a lot of excitement among supporters of the legalization of recreational marijuana coming up on Aug. 1. There’s also a lot of curiosity about why it will be legal to use and possess marijuana three weeks from now while no one will be licensed to sell it for another 18 months or so.
“On Aug. 1 it will be legal to possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis anywhere and up to 2 pounds of cannabis in your home,” says Rep. Zack Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids, while also pointing out it will be legal to grow cannabis at your home on that date.
Stephenson authored the cannabis legislation in the House and says the bill passed with knowledge of the incongruity of legalizing possession and use of marijuana for recreational use in 2023 while there likely won’t be licensed sellers until 2025.
“We did think about that, but the problem is if you do that you’re still, during that time period, penalizing people for something you’ve decided shouldn’t be illegal anymore,” he told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS about the gap between legalization of use and legalization of sales.
On July 1, the initial part of the law went into effect authorizing the creation of an Office of Cannabis Management that could take up to 18 months. That office will determine the rules and regulations for licensing sellers.
In the meantime, supporters of the legislation acknowledge the black market for marijuana will continue to thrive and maybe even grow until the legal marketplace starts early in 2025.
“There’s a whole bunch of things we have done to try and encourage movement into the legitimate marketplace and out of the illicit marketplace,” Stephenson says.
Among the provisions in the bill are civil penalties for people who sell illegally, including taking away licenses to sell liquor or tobacco if a liquor store or tobacco shop sells illegal marijuana products. He says there are also “tools” for local governments to crack down on illegal sales.
One other option is for cannabis users to grow their own marijuana at home. “Minnesota will be the 11th state that allows for the home-grow of cannabis,” says Leili Fatehi of Blunt Strategies which represents a coalition of cannabis organizations. She says her organization will help educate the public on how to grow at home.
Fatehi says they will also remind Minnesotans it is illegal to buy marijuana legally in another state and bring it to Minnesota.
“Marijuana is still a scheduled substance as far as federal law goes, so transporting it across state lines is considered a crime federally,” she told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.