Bud in the Bold North: a local’s guide to cannabis in Minnesota

minnesota loon cannabis in minnesota

Minnesota summers are glorious, but visitors may need some tips on how to take advantage of Minnesota’s loosening cannabis laws. We’re here to help! From tribal dispensaries to THC-friendly restaurants and festivals, Minnesota’s innovative cannabis scene has a lot to offer. As a local to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, here’s everything you need to know about cannabis in Minnesota.

Adult-use dispensaries are still a year away

Consumers may be disappointed to learn that Minnesota’s “dispensaries” are not yet selling flower and other adult-use products. That is because the Minnesota Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) is still working steadily to establish rules and implement the licensing framework created by the Minnesota Legislature in 2023 and tweaked in 2024.

Those interested in applying for a license will be working hard on applications due in July-August (for social equity licensees) and the first quarter of next year (for all licensees), after which OCM will allow successful applicants to open their doors at last (check out this “best-guess timeline” for updates).

Minnesota’s thoughtful approach is intended to facilitate a craft cannabis industry full of interesting destination microbusinesses, much like our microbreweries or distilleries. Road trip next summer?

Hemp-derived THC out in front

Consumers have options, though! 

Canna-loving visitors will be pleasantly surprised to find 5 mg and 10 mg hemp-derived THC beverages on many restaurant and bar menus and for sale at most liquor stores as well as canna-centric shops. These products have emerged as the cornerstone of cannabis in Minnesota.

Breweries and cideries across the state have gotten creative with craft hemp-derived beverages they can sell alongside their beer, ciders, and seltzers. One of my favorites, Trail Magic, comes from the Minneapolis Cider Company and includes terrific infused margaritas and an award-winning infused iced tea and lemonade. 

Minnesota has taken the lead in the U.S. in regulating and testing these hemp-derived THC products for consumer safety, and they are also delicious and effective. Products range from crisp seltzers to fizzy pop, some with CBD and other minor cannabinoids for an entourage effect. In my experience, 5 mg is a good starting point, depending on your THC tolerance, and effects start in 15-30 minutes. Just remember to start low and go slow.

Minnesota’s current dispensaries sell an array of high-quality hemp-derived THC products. I love the Moonlight Cannabis strawberry-flavored Half Moon gummies for daytime and Goodnight Moon (with CBD and CBN) for sleep. Browse your options at CannaJoyMN in south Minneapolis, Grounded Gardens in St. Paul, or House of Oilworx in Anoka (in the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities). 

Tribal dispensaries offer legal cannabis

Minnesota’s eleven tribal nations can establish separate regulatory regimes for cannabis, and a number of them have moved quickly to do so. Red Lake and White Earth opened their dispensary doors to the public in fall 2023, with many Twin Cities residents making the beautiful four to five-hour drive to buy legal weed.

The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe opened a third dispensary in Walker in June (about three hours north of the Cities) called The Sweetest Grass. The Prairie Island Indian Community will be opening one called Island Peži (pay-zhee, meaning grass) only one hour southeast in the coming months.  

Cannabis events & experiences building community

Minnesota’s cannabis scene is brimming with weed-friendly experiences and events. Hi Flora, a vegan restaurant and alcohol-free bar in Minneapolis, creates a unique cannabis experience for customers by offering a THC tincture that can be added to drinks or infused into food dishes. 

Another spot, The Zen Arcade, is a music-oriented cannabis lounge where visitors can browse records and indulge in THC-infused snacks. These creative cannabis businesses offer an alcohol-free option for visitors who still want to hang out and catch a buzz. 

Minnesota is also home to the Midwest’s largest cannabis festival, the Legacy Cup. The festival, held in September, is a friendly competition with categories including best homegrown flower, favorite Minnesota THC product, and most innovative THC beverage. The festival is more than just a competition, though: it’s an experience that also includes music, vendors, food, art, and education. 

Creative and innovative cannabis entrepreneurs have flourished in this new industry and now provide visitors with a variety of cannabis experiences. Whether you are a cannabis connoisseur or just want to try something new, Minnesota’s cannabis scene will not disappoint. Come visit us in 2024 – and then plan to come back next year to see the craft cannabis market develop! Thanks to law clerk Kelly Flynn for helping with this article!

*This article was submitted by a guest contributor. The author is solely responsible for the contents.

Jen Randolph Reise Jen Randolph Reise is a leading Minnesota cannabis lawyer who represents many social equity applicants and entrepreneurs seeking to launch craft cannabis businesses. She leads the Business and Cannabis Law groups at North Star Law Group PLLC in St. Paul, Minnesota, and frequently speaks on podcasts, CLEs, and panels on cannabis law and policy