A day before the new lounge and ground-floor dispensary at Grounded Gardens was set to open, owner Bridgette Pinder showed off hemp-derived THC products and hemp plants that’ll soon be available for customers.
Starting Tuesday, Minnesotans 21 and older will be allowed to use, possess and grow marijuana. But vendors in the state won’t be able to sell marijuana products until later — when they get approval from the state’s Office of Cannabis Management.
Since Pinder can’t legally sell marijuana plants yet, the hemp plants will stand in as test subjects as she teaches customers how to grow cannabis.
“So we're gonna have kind of a little area out in front of our dispensary with some tables and chairs where people can hang out, they can bring their own flower, their own stuff to smoke, because we won't be able to sell any of that stuff yet,” Pinder said.
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In the meantime, Pinder said she hopes customers will come to her to buy cannabis seeds so they can grow at home. For a little more than $1,000, Pinder offers a package that includes seeds, lights, a grow tent, plant monitoring software and a three-hour class.
And down the road, she hopes to host seed swaps so customers can grow different cannabis varieties.
“People can come in, get their pack of seeds, bring in whatever seeds they have and then people can kind of swap seeds between one another. And then you can have different strains,” she said.
Pinder plans to source her seeds from Minneapolis-based seed bank CannaJoy. Until now, the company has just sold hemp-derived THC products, including edibles and seltzers. But co-founder Bob Walloch says the law change will help get his mom and pop cannabis business off the ground.
“You know, up until this point, we're just starting but we’ve only been able to offer hemp-derived products from growers here in Minnesota,” Walloch said. “With the change in the law, for us, that's going to be a big change in the sense that our seed bank can open.”
Walloch said CannaJoy will start selling cannabis seeds today and will offer home growing classes soon. While it’s been illegal to home grow, Walloch said people did it anyway. And now, they can share best practices openly.
“We think that now that we're all out of our own individual, little tiny silos everywhere, it's just really going to be important to help bring that knowledge to other people,” Walloch said.
State seed law requires businesses like CannaJoy to undergo occasional testing to verify that information about their seeds stacks up to what they claim on a label. But that process has lagged since the state hasn’t yet been able to start testing.
“We haven't started accepting things for testing. And in Minnesota, we require things to be labeled with a test that's able to substantiate those labeled claims,” said Michael Merriman, seed regulatory supervisor at the state plant protection division. “That's to protect the consumers of seed in the state.”
Merriman said that about 30 businesses have applied for state permits to label cannabis seeds so far. Minnesotans can legally buy cannabis seeds labeled in other states. Merriman says that’s frustrated some retailers who would like to offer more Minnesota-grown seeds right away.
“I think it's going to be difficult for in-state people to work since we're still waiting on rules and the Office of Cannabis Management to get established. People aren't actually able to start growing plants yet and selling plants and that's where they'll get their seed sources from,” Merriman said.
Under state law, adults will be able to grow up to eight cannabis plants with four mature at any given time. Erin Walloch, CannaJoy’s CEO, said that could take about three months, so harvest would likely start late in the fall.
“So as people are growing their cannabis at home, they can have some edibles from Minnesota as well, while they wait for their harvest,” she said.
Adults will be allowed to possess up to two pounds of marijuana flower at home and two ounces in their possession elsewhere. And while most dispensaries won’t be able to sell marijuana until 2024 or 2025, Minnesota home growers will be able to give other adults a small amount of marijuana flower.