Automatic expungement, no fake weed: 5 ways Minnesota’s legalization could be a national model

minneapolis skyline at night cannabis in minnesota

Building on the precedents—and mistakes—of the states that went first, Minnesota launches today what lawmakers hope is the most practical legalization approach in the nation. As of Tuesday, August 1st, Minnesota is the 23rd state to enact marijuana reform.

Minnesota is already a unique market thanks to the proliferation of hemp-derived THC drinks and edibles already available at restaurants, bars, specialty shops, and liquor stores around the state. 

From the expungement of criminal records for tens of thousands of people to a ban on synthetic cannabinoids, the addition of full legalization starts another chapter in what could be the country’s most interesting cannabis industry.

“When we started, we said we were going to build the best model for full legalization in the nation,” explained Representative Jessica Hanson (D-Burnsville), who began her crusade for legal cannabis six years ago. 

“There was so much hard work. And now here we are, watching everybody celebrate and prepare to start businesses. It just fills my heart.”

Wondering what exactly is legal in Minnesota—and what’s not? Here are five things you should definitely know about cannabis in the Bold North.

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Possession, consumption, and home grow are all legal 

Starting today, adults 21 and over are able to have up to two ounces of cannabis flower, eight grams of concentrates, and 800 milligrams of THC edibles in public. Those will also be purchase limits at adult-use dispensaries.

The limit for flower possession at a private home is two pounds. Adults can also opt to grow their own cannabis at home; each household is allowed eight plants, four of which can be flowering at any given time.

Plants must be in an enclosed, secure area that is out of public view. Rep. Hanson said this decision was made to deter crime.

The gifting of up to two ounces between adults is also legal. Cash or trade may not be exchanged, unlike in Washington, D.C. where a “free gift with purchase” law has seen a proliferation of gray market activity.

Defining where you can consume may be tough

The cannabis bill (HF100) in Minnesota effectively makes public consumption legal—but there are a few exceptions.

First off, smoking marijuana is not permitted in multi-family dwellings. This means people in apartment buildings or similar properties may have to leave their property if they want to smoke or dab. Eating edibles or drinking THC drinks, however, is acceptable.

Smoking in vehicles is also banned as is driving under the influence of cannabis.

The ability of cities to ban the public smoking of cannabis is also cause for concern. Duluth, Lakeville, West Saint Paul, Apple Valley, and Inver Grove Heights are a fraction of the communities considering ordinances to limit consumption on city streets or in parks. 

These ordinances may make it especially difficult for people who rent to legally smoke or dab cannabis. It also means that if you’re on the go, make sure to know the local laws prior to lighting up.

“We have a lot of cities who are banning the consumption of cannabis,” Rep. Hanson told GreenState. “When you’re in those cities, be careful.”

Many municipalities are also placing moratoriums on cannabis businesses despite language in HF100 that forbids them outright bans.

Rep. Hanson added that people vote with their dollars and may want to consider spending more time in communities that have welcomed cannabis consumers and operators with open arms,

“Think about where to spend your money—spend your money in cannabis-friendly cities, people that see the economic value that we have that respect our right to consume a healing plant.”

Business is one reason why Lakeville Mayor Luke Hellier wants to pass a public cannabis ban. He’s concerned a proliferation of cannabis smoke may cause people to stay away from his city.

“The last thing I want to do is to create a situation where people are deterred, especially from outside of Lakeville, to come and try our restaurants because someone might be smoking pot in the parking lot,” Hellier told a local CBS affiliate.

RELATED: When will federal marijuana legalization happen?

Cannabis sales are currently limited to tribal dispensaries

While adults may be able to have cannabis as of August 1, it may be difficult for them to get it. It could be early 2025 before dispensaries open, as the state takes time to flush out the licensure process and regulations.

However, Indigenous tribes in Minnesota have been given a head start and may opt to open adult-use dispensaries essentially as soon as they’d like. So far, two tribes in the northwestern part of the state have decided to take advantage.

NativeCare, a Red Lake Nation-run medical dispensary in Red Lake, Minnesota, will begin selling adult-use cannabis today to anyone over 21, regardless of whether they’re a member of the tribe.

White Earth Nation is expected to open its first dispensary sometime this month. According to MPR News, White Earth is currently in talks with other tribal nations to establish a compact with state officials to open off-reservation dispensaries in addition to retail locations on tribal lands.

Automatic expungement of criminal records starts immediately

Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will begin automatic expungement of lower-level cannabis convictions right away. Over 60,000 Minnesotans may be eligible, but officials believe it may take up to a year to clear the backlog.

“No state has made it automatic,” Rep. Hanson explained. Every state has made their people petition to get their expungements done, which we didn’t feel like that was right. That’s going to completely free up the lives of so many people.”

Felony convictions may take a bit more work to erase from individual records. A Cannabis Expungement Board will soon be formed and will determine eligibility on a case-by-case basis.

Synthetic cannabinoids are banned

Products containing synthesized cannabinoids like HHC and THC-O were outlawed when Governor Walz signed Minnesota’s recreational marijuana bill into law earlier this summer. However, they continue to be sold in smoke shops and hemp dispensaries across the state.

According to Carol Moss, an attorney and partner at Hellmuth & Johnson, that will likely change this fall. All hemp businesses must register with the state by October 1st. Moss believes that a crackdown could come soon after.

“There’s still issues with enforcement—I expect there will be more once the state knows who’s selling it,” Moss told GreenState via text.

The advent of legal cannabis in Minnesota is an exciting development for advocates who have long called for an end to prohibition. With a generous home grow rule and dozens of THC drinks available at restaurants and stores, it will be interesting to see how the North Star State’s market plays out.


rachelle gordon

Rachelle Gordon is a cannabis journalist, Emerald Cup judge, Budist critic, and editor of She began her weed writing journey in 2015 and has been featured in High Times, CannabisNow, Beard Bros, MG, Skunk, and many others. Rachelle currently splits her time between Minneapolis and Oakland; her favorite cannabis cultivars include Silver Haze and Tangie. Follow Rachelle on Instagram @rachellethewriter