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Minnesota becomes 23rd state to legalize recreational marijuana

(Via St Paul Cannabis Dispensary and Delivery)

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed the bill Tuesday. Starting Aug 1, Minnesotans ages 21 and older can use marijuana products recreationally in their own homes.

The legalization comes with caveats, including the banning of cannabis consumption while in public, driving, or on public transit. However, employees cannot be discriminated against or fired for testing positive for marijuana use.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed the bill Tuesday; medical marijuana has been legal in the state since 2014.

THC dispensary owners are cautiously optimistic about what the legalization could mean for their businesses. St Paul Cannabis and Delivery Owner David Mendolia said that while he is excited for what the new law does for individuals, he worries about incoming competition from out of state entrepreneurs.

“I don’t believe a single location store would get any priority over places that have four or five locations,” Mendolia said. His worries echo the experiences other states have faced as legalization was on the table; namely, how to support a budding business environment without undermining existing businesses.

Large marijuana businesses have been pushing smaller ones to the side across the country. In 2019, a group of medical marijuana licensees urged then New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to ban home growing in the state. Multistate operators in Arizona and Illinois have purportedly made moves to buy up social equity licenses, which were created to encourage those communities most impacted by the war on drugs to take part in the state’s growing cannabis industry.

“I’ve been wary of hiring people to work at the store,” Mendolia said. “I’m concerned that if I take people on for what I consider a good wage … that as margins deteriorate, I might not be able to pay them as well as I’d like to.”

In addition to legalizing the use of marijuana, the bill expunges the criminal records of people convicted of misdemeanor marijuana crimes. Those with more serious charges can apply for their records to be cleared. The bill allows the possession of up to two pounds of the substance in a private residence, and for the limited private cultivation of the plant.

Lawmakers and state officials say that it could take up to 18 months to issue licenses to retailers.

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