Saint Paul, MN — Minnesota has enacted significant changes to its cannabis laws, aiming to expedite the launch of the state’s cannabis industry. Key among these changes is the acceleration of business operations for social equity applicants, who can now start growing cannabis by the end of this year, ahead of the 2025 retail sales launch.

Governor Tim Walz signed the bill on May 24, 2024. The new legislation incorporates many recommendations from the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) to strengthen social equity, streamline the application and licensing process, and enhance protections for medical cannabis patients.

Key Legislative Changes:
Social Equity Focus: The law enhances social equity provisions, lowering ownership requirements from 100% to 65% to enable better access to capital and partnerships. A new social equity license classification and a well-vetted lottery system ensure fairness in the licensing process.

Preapproved Licensing for Early Movers: Social equity applicants can benefit from a preapproval licensing process, allowing them to establish operations early and be ready for market launch.
Streamlined Application Process: The application process no longer requires securing a physical location beforehand, reducing financial risk. The system also consolidates license types and introduces medical endorsements for existing licenses to maintain benefits for medical cannabis patients.

Accelerated Oversight of Hemp-Derived Products: Responsibility for regulating hemp-derived cannabinoid products will transfer to OCM on July 1, 2024, providing clarity and consistency for the industry.
Enhanced Patient Protections: The transition of the Office of Medical Cannabis to OCM has been moved up to July 1, 2024, to ensure continuity and protect patient access. Changes include adjusted patient supply limits and the ability for caregivers to grow up to eight plants for a registered patient.

Consumer Safety Measures: OCM now has the authority to issue product recalls, enforce packaging and labeling requirements, and prevent the sale of empty packaging, ensuring consistent safety standards.
OCM Interim Director Charlene Briner emphasized that the focus will be on meeting the accelerated timeline to launch Minnesota’s new cannabis industry, ensuring access to safe, reliable products for both adult consumers and medical patients.

For more details, you can review the 2024 Legislative Changes to Chapter 342 here.

About the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM)
Established in 2023 following the enactment of HF 100, OCM is responsible for developing and implementing regulatory systems for Minnesota’s cannabis industry. The agency’s recommendations have been instrumental in shaping the latest legislative changes, which aim to create a sustainable and equitable cannabis market in the state.

Summary of Additional Key Changes:
Market Launch Support: Early mover advantages for social equity applicants through a preapproval process.
Application Process Improvement: Clarified steps for applications and reduced potential delays and financial burdens.
Consolidation of License Types: Simplified system with medical endorsements for existing licenses.
Accelerated Enforcement Transition: Earlier oversight of hemp-derived products to ensure regulatory consistency.