Minnesota Senate Approves Measure Enabling Cannabis Growers to Begin Cultivating Plants by the End of the Year

Minnesota Senate Approves Measure Enabling Cannabis Growers to Begin Cultivating Plants by the End of the Year

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If passed, the proposed bill would expedite the licensing process for prospective growers, potentially allowing cultivation to commence even before the end of 2024.

While not perfect, the approach officials in Minnesota are taking to achieving a successful launch for the state’s adult-use cannabis market is a notable example of how cooperation, compromise, and persistence are vital for any statewide undertaking as significant and complex as creating a recreational marijuana industry. 


As first reported by High Times, the Minnesota State Senate passed a measure to speed up the licensing process for hopeful cannabis cultivators by a razor-thin 34-32 margin last Friday. If Governor Tim Walz (DFL) signs the bill into law, it would enable cultivators to begin growing regulated marijuana plants by the end of the year.


With the self-imposed pressure of a Spring 2025 market launch bearing down on lawmakers, health officials, and potential industry stakeholders, the Senate’s actions demonstrate the necessary steps that must begin taking place for that aggressive and highly-anticipated goal to be achieved.


Under the Senate measure, state regulators at the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) could begin issuing preliminary license approvals for cannabis growers starting this summer. Proponents of the legislation say it will allow prospective regulated cultivators to secure funding for their businesses, find locations, and complete other critical tasks necessary to launch their companies.


“This newly regulated, legalized, and regulated industry is in its infancy, and we’re here to continue the work we started last year. Like any new industry, it will not be fully grown on day one. This bill works to ensure a successful market launch and support the industry and Minnesotans involved in this industry as it grows and develops,” said Democratic Senator Lindsey Port, co-sponsor of the original legalization bill passed last Spring.


"This newly regulated, legalized, and regulated industry is in its infancy, and we’re here to continue the work we started last year. Like any new industry, it will not be fully grown on day one. This bill works to ensure a successful market launch and support the industry and Minnesotans involved in this industry as it grows and develops."

- MN State Senator Lindsey Port (DFL)


As part of the Senate’s proposed bill, growers approved to cultivate recreational marijuana early would be temporarily subject to the state’s existing guidelines for medical cannabis cultivation until the OCM finalizes all adult-use marijuana rules and regulations later this year.


Not surprisingly, several Republican lawmakers opposed the legislation, citing concerns over the potentially problematic nature of creating temporary licensing regulations that could eventually differ from the permanent rules. Likewise, many were also concerned about allowing businesses to begin growing recreational marijuana before the state fully licenses them.


“I understand that there are folks that want to have the cannabis industry open and running today. But I think for the health and safety of Minnesotans for public safety, for just regulatory integrity, and an open and transparent process that would allow Minnesotans to engage on rulemaking, it’s really important that we don’t do an end-around,” said Republican Senator Jordan Rasmusson.


"I understand that there are folks that want to have the cannabis industry open and running today. But I think for the health and safety of Minnesotans for public safety, for just regulatory integrity, and an open and transparent process that would allow Minnesotans to engage on rulemaking, it’s really important that we don’t do an end-around."

- MN State Senator Jordan Rasmusson (R)


With the House having already approved a version of the bill last month, the legislation now heads to a conference committee, where lawmakers from both legislative chambers will work to reconcile differences between the two versions of the amended measure.


For his part, Governor Tim Walz (DFL), an ardent supporter of cannabis reform, said his office is closely monitoring all developments in the legislation. Walz also said he is acutely aware of the concerns expressed by Republicans and other invested parties over early cultivation allowances, stressing that the regulatory guidelines must include quality control standards for cannabis growers.


“We certainly hear people on this. I think there’s some potential there. We’re trying the best we can, but we’re not going to cut corners,” Walz told reporters earlier this week.


"We certainly hear people on this. I think there’s some potential there. We’re trying the best we can, but we’re not going to cut corners."

- MN Governor Tim Walz (DFL)


All eyes will now be squarely focused on the all-important conference committee, which could have a final version of the bill reconciled and ready for a vote in both chambers by the end of next week. If approved by the state legislature, Walz should swiftly sign the revised and amended bill into law, paving the way for focused plant growth right around Election Day.