Marijuana is legal in Minnesota, but that doesn’t mean it is widely available in all its forms. At least not yet.
While products derived from Delta 8 THC and CBD have been on the market in the state since 2022, recreational marijuana in its pure form has only been legal for the past six months. Minnesota’s Office of Cannabis Management is taking steps to make sure recreational dispensaries will be ready to open in 2025.
“A lot of progress has been made to both stand up the office and really get under way with rulemaking,” said Charlene Briner, interim director of the office, on Tuesday.
The office has contracted with Carahsoft, a technology company, to develop the state’s online application and licensing system for those looking to open dispensaries and other cannabis-based businesses.
“We’ve also engaged in a contract with Cannabis Public Policy Consulting,” Briner added. “They are a national consulting firm that has worked with states and tribal nations and cities to set up cannabis regulatory operations.”
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Before Briner stepped in as interim director, the cannabis office faced a major setback in September when Gov. Tim Walz’s initial choice to head the office resigned one day after being appointed. Erin DuPree, a former cannabis business operator, stepped down after her past business practices came under scrutiny.
Despite that hitch, Walz said he is still confident that marijuana dispensaries will be able to be licensed in early 2025.
“The goal here is to get the illicit stuff off the street, to make sure that adults make good decisions,” Walz told MPR News’ Morning Edition last month. “And to make sure, as you’ve seen, we’re regulating what people are taking. That’s really important.”
Until dispensaries are more widely up and running, one of the only legal options for obtaining marijuana in its pure form is to grow it yourself. Some businesses, like Legacy Glassworks in Minneapolis, sell seeds in accordance with state law. The retailer also sells custom, artist-made marijuana paraphernalia — like bongs and pipes. Owner Josh Wilken-Simon, who also runs the cannabis-themed convention Legacy Cup, is moving into the dispensary business with Legacy Cannabis.
“The first thing we’re doing is getting, you know, the specific dispensary locations in place,” said Wilken-Simon. Currently, his old glassworks shop in Duluth has been rebranded as a Legacy Cannabis shop. A Woodbury location is forthcoming.
Right now, he said, he’s focusing on following guidelines on where cities say you can and can’t operate a dispensary: “so many feet from schools, and you know, playgrounds, etc.”
Wilken-Simon is confident in the cannabis office and lawmakers’ ability to get everything situated by early 2025 for recreational dispensaries to be able to sell marijuana directly.
He said he sees Minnesota’s cannabis market “on a knife’s edge.” He sees two potential paths: one where massive marijuana operators dominate the industry or another where the state develops a “craft cannabis utopia” where small businesses can thrive.
“I’m optimistic we can, you know, tilt that way,” he said.
Other people working in the cannabis space are optimistic but have a healthy level of skepticism that recreational dispensaries will be able to open in early 2025.
“There’s a lot of signals I’ve seen lately that give me the impression that we’re making moves toward that right direction,” said David Gonzalez, head of growth for Minnesota THC and CBD chain Hemp House. “Early 2025, I would say that’s still on the table. If it does get pushed, if it’s for the good of the industry, that’s, you know, it’s OK.”
Hemp House also sells seeds for those looking to grow their own marijuana, but Gonzalez says that there is keen public interest in when recreational marijuana will be commercially available.
“Customers are very hungry and eager to get their more-potent flower, if you will,” he said.
For those without a green thumb, the other current legal option to obtain cannabis is to visit Tribal Nations, such as the Red Lake Nation and White Earth Nation. Through tribal sovereignty, these nations have been able to implement their own structure and regulations for dispensaries.
Otherwise, those looking to buy marijuana legally will just have to wait.