MN Cannabis Regulators Seek Public Input for Rules to Govern Recently Legalized Recreational Market

MN Cannabis Regulators Seek Public Input for Rules to Govern Recently Legalized Recreational Market

The state’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) will use the feedback to craft guidelines for monitoring Minnesota’s adult-use marijuana industry.

As October comes to a close, officials in Minnesota are taking the next vital steps toward launching the state's recreational cannabis market, which the state assembly legalized this past May. To that end, the state's Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) released an online survey on Monday, hoping to gather public input for establishing rules to facilitate Minnesota's marijuana industry.

As first reported by Marijuana Moment, OCM regulators want to hear from "the widest possible range of community members, advocates, and partners who want to help shape how the rules are drafted." The new survey includes questions about cannabis cultivation, processing, and manufacturing and will be available for responses through November 30.

"The first topic areas reflect the necessary industry components to help ensure the state can meet supply and demand once the market opens," the agency said.

"The first topic areas reflect the necessary industry components to help ensure the state can meet supply and demand once the market opens."

- Statement by the Minnesota Office of Cannabis Management (OCM)

Once a potential commenter opens the feedback form and provides some basic background information, they can share comments via a dropdown menu on issues ranging from cultivation, processing, and manufacturing. Likewise, under each topic heading, respondents will be prompted to share potential opportunities, concerns, and any technical and practical set-up items that officials should be wary of as they begin the process of establishing rules and guidelines.

In addition, other issues for evaluation through the OCM rulemaking process include laboratory testing, packaging, and labeling rules, social equity considerations, track and trace systems, the use of pesticides and fertilizers, and environmental controls, such as restricting water and energy use and controlling odor.

Finally, once the OCM completes its information-gathering effort, it will formally draft and propose new rules governing the Minnesota marijuana market. Following that announcement, the public will be encouraged to respond and weigh in on the regulations, which should happen sometime next fall.

With Minnesotans eagerly anticipating the launch of the state's adult-use market, state lawmakers have approved the OCM's implementation of an expedited rulemaking process. However, regulators have pointed out on numerous occasions that "the rules may not be approved and in force until 2025."

Until that time, adults over 21 are now legally allowed to possess, consume, and cultivate cannabis for personal use. Likewise, as part of a special agreement negotiated into the new statute, Minnesota's 11 recognized Native American tribes will be allowed to open retail dispensaries on their tribal lands immediately, pending approval by each tribal council.

Two tribes, the Red Lake and White Earth Nations, passed measures this summer enabling adult-use cannabis to be sold on tribal lands to both members and the general public. And the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe also recently legalized recreational sales and will now be selling its marijuana products from its tribal-owned retail dispensaries.

However, the journey to creating Minnesota's adult-use cannabis industry has not been without its challenges. Just one day after Gov. Tim Walz (D) appointed hemp business owner Erin Dupree to become the first director of the OCM, she abruptly resigned from the position following an MPR News-APM Reports investigation, which found that she allegedly sold products that exceeded state limits on THC potency. The inquiry also discovered that she owed large sums to former business associates and employees and had amassed tens of thousands of dollars in federal tax liens.

Bruised but undeterred, Gov. Walz has vowed to find a qualified and appropriately vetted replacement for Dupree as soon as possible. Until then, the current interim director of the office, Charlene Briner, will stay on in an acting role until a new director is named.

Minnesota's approach to drafting, passing, and implementing its adult-use cannabis statute is unique for many reasons. Hoping to learn from the mistakes of early adopting states like Colorado, Washington, and California, leaders in the North Star State want to manifest a safe, economically sturdy, and competitive industry with a particular eye toward social equity concerns and small to medium-sized business development.

In doing so, the state is leaning heavily on input from its citizens to assist officials in creating a system that works for the people. The coming year should provide a wealth of insight and progress toward accomplishing that goal.