Coming out of the 2024 Minnesota Legislative Session, one of the bills that was passed by legislators was one designed to make some notable changes to the existing marijuana law that went into effect in the state in 2023.

The new bill was designed to make some notable adjustments to the existing law, with one of the main points of emphasis being to speed up and streamline Minnesota's budding legal recreational marijuana industry.

That new bill was just signed by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz this week. So, what's in the new law, and what changes are coming to Minnesota's marijuana rules? Here's a look.

New changes for Minnesota's recreational cannabis law passed in 2024

Photo by Wesley Gibbs on Unsplash
Photo by Wesley Gibbs on Unsplash

For proponents of legalizing recreational marijuana in Minnesota, one of the biggest frustrations is the lengthy timeline to seeing businesses licensed and products being sold.

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While hemp-derived THC products like beverages and edibles are already widely accessible, other products including smokable marijuana are still on hold until the state can begin issuing licenses for operation.

As explained by the Star Tribune, the new law will allow Minnesota's Office of Cannabis Management to start issuing operational licenses as soon as this summer to certain cultivators to ramp up supply ahead of stores offering products.

Among those businesses that could gain earlier license approval under the new law are part of what the state calls "social equity applicants" that fall into a number of qualifying categories that include military veterans, Individuals or close family members of individuals previously convicted of marijuana offenses, small farms the state refers to as "emerging farmers" and residents in high-poverty areas.

While some growers will start getting licensed soon, distribution licenses will lag behind that a little, with broad licensing expected to come in 2025.

The new law also makes changes to the system used to award licenses overall using a lottery system, sets caps for certain types of licenses until 2026, and allows municipalities to open cannabis stores without participating in the aforementioned lottery for licensing.

Changes for THC beverages

The final significant change for recreational users includes a streamlining of hemp-derived THC products. This part of the law will allow for businesses selling hemp-derived THC beverages for on-site consumption like bars and restaurants to serve these products on tap (similar to beer) rather than requiring they be served in their original packaging/can.

Medical marijuana changes

Photo by Jeff W on Unsplash
Photo by Jeff W on Unsplash

In addition to the recreational changes noted above, the new law will allow doctors to recommend cannabis for any condition rather than just those dictated by previous medical marijuana legislation, creates a new system for medical cannabis businesses in the state, and allows medicinal cannabis patients to designate a caregiver to grow plants for them.

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Of Minnesota's 87 counties, it turns out a sizable portion of them are larger than some entire states in the United States. 11 counties are bigger than at least one (in some cases more than one) state. Here's what counties are on that list and which states they are bigger than in land area.

Gallery Credit: Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

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