“You’re welcome, Minnesota!” tweeted Rep. Heather Edelson (D-Edina). She’s the main author of the bill that effectively legalized THC edibles in Minnesota over the July 4th weekend.
But what’s exactly going on here? There’s been a lot of discussion (and confusion) about this new law, some confusion even coming from state lawmakers who voted for the bill. Here’s an explainer with frequently asked questions about the new bill that legalizes the sale of small doses of hemp-derived THC within edibles in Minnesota.
How did this happen?
The bill, HF 3595, was initially framed as a way to better regulate delta-8 products, an unregulated, hemp derived “cousin” of marijuana. Hemp and CBD have been legal in Minnesota, which allowed people to formulate delta-8. People started selling the products everywhere because there were no legal standards around it. The delta-8 market has been criticized for targeting kids by making products that look like candy. With the help of Sen. Mark Koran (R-North Branch), Edelson pushed to regulate delta-8, but used the broader language of cannabinoids, which includes delta-9. THC, or delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical that causes the high of marijuana.
So is weed legal in Minnesota now?
Not entirely. Edibles with THC that’s derived from legally certified hemp, which contains trace amounts of THC, are now legal. According to guidance issued by the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy, the department tasked with regulating this, the new law “does not specify particular tetrahydrocannabinols”, or THC.
They cannot contain more than 5 milligrams of the hemp-derived THC per serving, and no more than 50 milligrams per package. However, there are currently no limits on how many packages you can buy.
The law also prohibits companies from marketing their products to children.
Is it true that this law was passed “accidentally”?
Minnesota’s Republican-controlled Senate has historically opposed the legalization of marijuana, which is why there has been so much confusion. In fact, Sen. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka) told the Star Tribune that he hadn’t realized the bill broadly legalized products containing THC.
Supporters of the bill have said that the legalization was “intentional”, and Edelson resisted the idea that Republicans didn’t understand the scope of the bill, saying that the author of the Senate version of the bill was a Republican, who co-chairs the medical cannabis task force with Edelson.
However, Minnesota House Democrats said they did work quietly to avoid negative criticism from publicity campaigns, press releases, and advocate testimonies, as these could have pressured Republicans to block the bill.
“Sometimes legislation benefits from a lot of publicity, and sometimes legislation benefits from the ability to work more quietly,” House Majority leader Ryan Winkler told reporters at a Tuesday press conference. “But it was all done in the public eye.”
Is it safe?
Yes, but the Minnesota Department of Health warned consumers to be careful. The Board of Pharmacy does not have a lab to test the potency or safety of the products, nor does it have a contract with a lab. While manufacturers are required to contract with a lab and keep records, they do not have to send them to the Board of Pharmacy. At this point, with the limited regulation that currently exists, you may end up with significant variability in potency from product to product.
The new law also does not require a license to manufacture, distribute, or sell THC edibles and drinks.
Can restaurants and other food services sell THC products?
No. The new law only allows for the sale of manufactured and packaged products that contain substances derived from hemp. It does not apply to food service or food preparation activities using products which contain substances derived from hemp. It will be a while before you can enjoy a THC-infused cocktail at your favorite bar. However, companies in Minnesota are already planning on distributing their own products, such as Indeed Brewing.
Can edible cannabinoids be produced under Minnesota’s Cottage Food Exemption?
No. The state’s Cottage Food Law allows for individuals to make and sell certain non-potentially hazardous food and canned goods in Minnesota. Because edible cannabinoids are explicitly excluded from the definition of food products found in the exemption, it cannot be applied.
Where can I purchase edibles?
A handful of convenience stores and hemp and smoke shops are already offering delta-9 products, but availability is inconsistent at best. We could start seeing delta-9 products everywhere soon.
There’s still a long road ahead for Minnesota lawmakers. The Board of Pharmacy has been tasked with regulation of the new THC products. Currently, the Board of Pharmacy only has 23 employees. There are also no tax provisions on the bill; in other states, like Colorado or California, the legalization of marijuana has generated thousands of dollars of revenue for state governments.
So in essence, Minnesota lawmakers closed an unregulated delta-8 loophole by creating a slightly more regulated loophole.
“It was a wild west before, let’s be clear,” Edelson said at the press conference.