Company criticizes police seizure of cannabis plants in Faribault

The founder of a company at the center of a cannabis plant seizure in Faribault, Minn., earlier this week is contesting the police action. 

The 22 plants taken by the Faribault Police Department in the parking lot of Total Tobacco on Tuesday were not producing THC at the moment they were sold, said Matt Little, founder of NuQanna, the company that grew the plants in question.

The seizure happened Aug. 1 — the first day it became legal to use or possess limited amounts of pot in Minnesota, as well as grow it at home. 

Police said that they were responding to citizen complaints that Total Tobacco was selling suspected marijuana plants during a parking lot sale.

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But the state has not issued retail licenses yet, which is the potential violation Faribault police are investigating. The state is still working to create the Minnesota Office of Cannabis Management, which will issue retail licenses — which may not happen until early 2025. 

Little said the seizure underscores what he says is confusion around the new law.

“It’s a lot of confusion,” he said. “That’s why we are in this mess. At the top level, they left out a big portion of ‘you can grow plants at home Aug. 1,’ but how do you get them?”

Little said the police have yet to charge anyone. 

In a statement, the Faribault Police Department said that no one was arrested during the seizure on Tuesday, and that the situation is a matter of ongoing investigation. 

“The Faribault Police Department is committed to supporting businesses engaged in the legal sale of cannabis and cannabis-related products once the Minnesota Office of Cannabis Management is established,” Faribault Police Chief John Sherwin said in the statement. “Until that time, unauthorized sales of cannabis will be investigated in accordance with state law.”

Some cities around the state have passed temporary retail sales bans until the state licensing system is in order. 

Meanwhile, sales started at the Red Lake Nation and White Earth Reservation this week, where their preexisting medical cannabis dispensaries were opened to all. Tribal governments are sovereign and can operate on their own terms.