Despite its designation as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance by the federal government, the regulated market for marijuana continues to grow across the United States. Statistics from 2019 estimate the value of the legal cannabis market at $13.6 billion.
As more and more state policymakers come around to the idea of legalization, the regulated marijuana market will keep expanding. However, until it takes hold everywhere, the creep toward full regulation will leave many legal grey areas in its wake.
Our state is no different. While efforts are underway to make marijuana legal in Minnesota, possession of the drug is still an offense in many situations.
This post looks at marijuana laws in Minnesota, and explains what you have to do to stay out of trouble.
Is Medical Marijuana Legal in Minnesota?
Minnesota has allowed the use of marijuana products for medical reasons since 2014. However, there are limits to this. Firstly, you need to have a prescription for an approved condition, and you must source your cannabis products from a licensed dispensary.
Whole-plant marijuana is still prohibited. While cannabis-infused oils, pills, topicals, and other treatments are permitted for those with appropriate prescriptions, you cannot legally purchase or possess marijuana in its natural form. A bill to legalize whole-plant marijuana for medical use was struck down by the Minnesota State Senate in May of this year.
Another important factor to consider here is the possibility of a drugged driving charge. Even if you have a prescription for medical marijuana, you can still get in trouble with police if they find you operating a vehicle under the influence of it. It’s also forbidden to possess or be under the influence of cannabis products while on the grounds of a correctional facility or school.
Furthermore, patients should never be in possession of more than a 30-day supply of medical cannabis products.
Is Recreational Marijuana Legal in Minnesota?
The possession of marijuana for recreational purposes (also known as adult-use marijuana) is prohibited in Minnesota. Possession of an amount less than 42.5g (1.5oz) is considered a petty misdemeanor. If the same amount is possessed in a motor vehicle, it is considered a misdemeanor offense. Possession of an amount greater than this could be charged as a gross misdemeanor or felony. The sale or importation of marijuana will also generally be a felony.
However, a bill currently moving through the Minnesota House of Representatives may change all of this. Introduced by House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (D), HF 4632 would regulate adult-use cannabis for Minnesotans and strike out existing cannabis-related convictions. The bill was delayed by the pandemic but is expected to go to a vote in 2021.
What Happens if You Get Caught With Marijuana in Minnesota?
As noted above, the severity of the sentence you attract for a marijuana offense depends largely on the amount with which you are caught.
A petty misdemeanor is not a crime. While you cannot be incarcerated for a petty misdemeanor conviction, you can receive a fine of up to $300. First-time offenders may alternatively be directed to undergo drug rehabilitation.
The punishment handed down for a marijuana felony conviction will depend on the amount you’re in possession of, among other factors. For an amount between 42.5g and 5kg, a judge can impose a custodial sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to $10,000. For quantities in excess of 5kg, decades-long jail sentences and fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars are possible.
Hiring an Attorney After an Arrest for Possession
While marijuana is legal in Minnesota to a degree, the law here is more restrictive than in some other states. Possession will still amount to an offense of some kind in most situations, unless you have a prescription.
If you’re arrested for marijuana possession, it’s important to get in touch with an attorney as soon as you can to discuss your next move. Contact us today for a free review of yo