Addiction Helpline America Logo
Get Free & Confidential Help Now Who Answers?

Minnesota Marijuana Legalization: Legislation, Effects, and Addiction Treatment (2024)

Published February 20, 2024 By Addiction Helpline

As of August 1st, 2023, the possession, use, and home grow of cannabis for people 21 and older was decriminalized in the state of Minnesota.

As outlined in the law, a person aged 21 years or older may:

  • Use, possess, or transport cannabis paraphernalia.
  • Possess or transport up to 2 ounces of cannabis flower in a public place.
  • Possess up to 2 pounds of cannabis flower in a person’s private residence.
  • Possess or transport up to 8 grams of adult-use concentrate. 
  • Possess or transport edible cannabis products or lower-potency hemp edibles infused with a combined 800 milligrams or less of THC.
  • Give away cannabis flower and products to a person 21 or older in an amount legal for a person to possess in public.


Minnesota's leading authority on cannabis regulation, Cherlene Briner, recently briefed a legislative committee about the progress in rolling out the state's new law for adult-use marijuana. This update included details on the expansion of the regulatory team and the anticipated introduction of a business license application portal. However, the discussion also ventured into contentious territory, particularly concerning the criteria for equitable benefits within the framework, sparking debate among some Republican members of the committee. This development is crucial for professionals in the Minnesota addiction treatment sector, as understanding the nuances of marijuana legislation is vital, given its potential role as a gateway drug leading to further substance abuse.

Sen. Jordan Rasmusson (R) raised concerns about how the proposed equity regulations might permit individuals previously convicted of marijuana sales to not only run retail outlets but also to benefit from social equity status in licensing. This approach aims to address past injustices but also prompts a broader discussion on how marijuana, often seen as a gateway drug, fits into the larger context of substance abuse and the importance of comprehensive Minnesota addiction treatment strategies.

“You’d think if we were trying to find a safe, regulated market,” he said, “that would be a surprising first proposal coming from the regulatory agency.” 

Charlene Briner

Charlene Briner, the interim Director of the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), has shared her personal connection to the issue of drug policy, revealing that she is the parent of an individual currently facing incarceration due to drug-related charges. This disclosure brings a unique perspective to her role in the OCM, especially in discussions surrounding the complexities of cannabis regulation and its implications for Minnesota addiction treatment. Briner's situation underscores the often-overlooked human element in the debate on marijuana as a potential gateway drug leading to broader substance abuse issues.

“I have a son who has been convicted of drug offenses and is currently incarcerated,” she told members of the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee. “And while I will never defend his choices, I have to believe as a mother in second chances.”

“My hope is that as a state, we will give opportunity for second chance to people who have paid their dues and who have proven that they are reintegrated into society and have become contributing members,” Briner continued, adding that those people would “have an opportunity to reduce some of the collateral consequences that they’ve experienced.”

Officials from the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) are actively updating the public on the progress of Minnesota's legal cannabis rollout, emphasizing enhancements recommended by the office. Briner has highlighted that these proposed changes are aimed at not only expediting the launch of the legal cannabis market but also at reinforcing the bill's comprehensive social equity objectives.

“We believe that the intention of the law is very clear but that there are opportunities to make some of those social equity opportunities even more robust,” she said during an earlier presentation last month.

The initiative aims to fast-track the temporary licensing of businesses by this summer, focusing particularly on those with significant ownership by individuals most affected by past prohibition policies. This aspect of the proposal drew scrutiny from Rasmusson during the Senate committee discussion.

The change would allow equity-owned businesses to secure licenses ahead of time, according to the presentation, “so when the market opens, they have the first availability to launch.”

Governor Tim Walz of Minnesota

Governor Tim Walz of Minnesota, a Democrat, has expressed his support for a new plan, emphasizing the importance of structuring the equity program to avoid legal entanglements. Meanwhile, Rasmusson urges regulatory bodies to reassess their priorities, hinting at a potential shift in focus or strategy. This discussion is particularly relevant in the context of Minnesota addiction treatment, where the intersection of policy, legal considerations, and healthcare priorities is crucial for effective intervention and support systems.

“I would just encourage the agency to think about the health and safety of Minnesotans,” he said at Tuesday’s hearing, “and not how we can make money for certain groups.”

In a recent committee meeting, Briner reported on the progress of Minnesota's new state licensing application system. The initial design phase has been completed, and the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) is now conducting internal tests to evaluate the user experience. Additionally, efforts are being made to collaborate with other state departments on banking and tax issues, indicating a multi-faceted approach.

There are also six appointments yet to be made to the Cannabis Advisory Council, an oversight board that Briner said is aiming to have its inaugural meeting in the first quarter of this year.

She also outlines efforts OCM has made to solicit public feedback, such as by launching a series of public surveys on topics like retail business operations, packaging and labeling, edibles standards and the state’s medical marijuana system.

Minnesota addiction treatment

In recent efforts to engage the community and understand their perspectives on cannabis, the department has conducted seven surveys, garnering extensive participation with the latest on medical cannabis attracting over 4,400 responses. To further enrich the dialogue, officials have also organized public webinars and engaged with legislative members and external stakeholders, aiming to shape an informed and responsive legal framework for Minnesota cannabis.

“This is novel work in state government. It is rare to build an agency from the ground up,” Briner said. “We are creating new positions and creating new standard operating procedures, and so we want to make sure that we are being intentional about it—to both capture the intended outcomes that are very clear in the law, not the least of which is our social equity outcomes that we hope to achieve, but also to establish sound regulatory practices for the long term.”

Of everything OCM has been engaged with, rulemaking “is perhaps of the most interest,” she affirmed.

The development of regulations is anticipated to continue into the upcoming summer, with plans to announce proposed rules by fall, followed by a period for public feedback and potential revisions. The governor holds the power to veto these rules, with finalization expected by early 2025. Despite this, certain Republican legislators have expressed concerns, particularly about the potential impact of cannabis farming on Minnesota's electrical infrastructure, indicating a complex debate surrounding the new regulatory framework.

Sen. Eric Lucero - R

“Get ready for blackouts and brownouts. That’s what’s going to happen,” said Sen. Eric Lucero (R), who called growing the plant “unsustainable.”

In the context of Minnesota's legislative landscape, the topic of legalization has seen a significant divide, particularly along political lines. The legislative action taken last year, which saw the passage of certain legislation, was met with limited support from Republican members, with only a handful from the House and one from the Senate backing the measure. A notable voice, Senator John Jasinski, a Republican, expressed concerns, predicting that such legalization could “potentially lead to the early retirement of drug-sniffing dogs”, a joke that highlights the multifaceted implications of legislative changes on various sectors.

Understanding the impact of legalized marijuana requires a multi-faceted approach, examining its societal, health, and economic ramifications. On a societal level, legalization may alter norms and perceptions around drug use, potentially reducing stigma but also raising concerns about increased accessibility, especially among youths. Health implications are equally complex, with debates on marijuana's therapeutic benefits against risks of dependency and mental health issues. Economically, legalization could spur job creation and tax revenues, yet it necessitates robust regulatory frameworks to manage the market and address public health costs. As communities navigate these waters, it's essential to weigh both the challenges and opportunities presented by this shift towards legalization, ensuring policies that promote public welfare and safety.

Questions About Addiction Treatment?

Our Private & Confidential Helpline Is Available 24/7.

Benefits Include:

- Licensed Treatment Centers
- Caring, Supportive Guidance
- Financial Assistance Options

Call Now

Find A Rehab

Browse our directory of addiction treatment centers to find a provider or program that is right for you.

Get Started

Are You An Addiction Treatment Provider?

Help more people by listing your rehab in our directory. Getting listed is fast and simplete. Click the button below to get started.

Submit Your Center

Continue Reading

Photo for Article: Why Seeking Help for Addiction is a Sign of Strength

Why Seeking Help for Addiction is a Sign of Strength

This article challenges the stigma of addiction, showing that seeking help is a courageous step and a true demonstration of strength.

Read Now
Photo for Article: What to Expect When You Call for Help

What to Expect When You Call for Help

Learn what to expect when you call Addiction Helpline America for help with addiction, including the process and benefits of seeking timely assistance.

Read Now
Photo for Article: Unveiling the Connection: Mental Illness and Addiction

Unveiling the Connection: Mental Illness and Addiction

Explore the intricate relationship between mental illness and addiction, understanding the dual approach needed for effective treatment and recovery.

Read Now