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Marijuana Grow Cases in Minnesota


Prosecutors file marijuana grow charges in both federal and state courts.  Marijuana grow defense attorney Thomas Gallagher provides an overview of Minnesota criminal marijuana grow laws.

Most marijuana growing prosecutions are in State court.  One reason?  If harmful to health at all, marijuana is safer than other drugs.  And not only that — the majority of the United States population has tried it at least once.

In addition, many United States Presidents smoked marijuana. And later we elected them to the highest public office.  Yet another reason may be the sheer number of people who have used marijuana.

Minnesota’s Criminal Prohibition of Marijuana: Grow laws

Marijuana grow laws in Minnesota
Marijuana grow laws in Minnesota

Unlike other states, Minnesota State Statutes still provide for criminal remedies when sought by the government, for marijuana.  And most of these prosecutions are under Minnesota Statutes Chapter 152, titled “Drugs, Controlled Substances.”

Until a few years ago, if you possessed growing marijuana, the government could prosecute you for possessing it.  Only with evidence of an actual sale; could the government prosecute for criminal sale of the malum prohibitum.  That was then.

(Sale of a “controlled substance” in Minnesota is a felony.)

In recent years, however, the prohibitionists expanded the laws to create a new legal fiction.  They created a crime by technicality provision – to turn possession of growing marijuana into a fictional “sale.”

To Grow is a  … Sale?

How did the ingenuous legislature do it?  It’s a complex bit of sophistry.  Here goes:

  1. Prosecutors can charge a person in Possession of growing marijuana with a Controlled Substance Crime of Possession.
  2. The government changed the definition of “Sell” in Minnesota Statutes Section 152.01, subd. 15a, to now include “to manufacture.”  Get that?  So their claim is that to “manufacture” is the same thing as to “sell.”
  3. Next, in their new definition of “Manufacture” at Minnesota Statutes Section 152.01, subd. 7, they have defined “manufacture” to mean “cultivation” of “drugs.”

So you see?  By legislative fiat they’ve made a law purporting to, first, define “cultivation” as “manufacture.”  And then, next, they presume to define “manufacture” as “sell.”

When you grow a flower, have you “sold” it? Minnesota’s marijuana grow laws lack a rational basis.

So, according to these lawmakers – and their lobbyists – cultivation is manufacture is selling.  Apparently they believe they have the legal power to turn black into white; and possession into sale.

Just think of all the Minnesota farmers and gardeners! So now they should be able to avoid the trouble of harvesting, processing, distribution and sale – once the crop has grown!

The money from the “sale”must magically appear in their pockets.  Thanks Minnesota legislature!

“When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
– Humpty Dumpty

Drug prohibitionists put this kind of irrationality into Minnesota law.

Should we allow criminal conviction of a person on a technicality?  Should we allow the government to ruin a person’s life with overreaching, nonsense laws?

New marijuana grow law: number of plants

A recent Minnesota statutes amendment added a new criteria for severity level – number of “plants.”  Minnesota Statutes Section 152.021, subd. 2 , First Degree Controlled Substance Crime – Possession:

 (6) the person unlawfully possesses one or more mixtures of a total weight of 50 kilograms or more containing marijuana or Tetrahydrocannabinols, or possesses 500 or more marijuana plants.

And a similar provision is now in Minnesota Statutes Section 152.022, subd. 2 , Second Degree Controlled Substance Crime – Possession:

(6) the person unlawfully possesses one or more mixtures of a total weight of 25 kilograms or more containing marijuana or Tetrahydrocannabinols, or possesses 100 or more marijuana plants.

But the Third Degree through Fifth Degree criminal statutes make no mention of “plants.”

Gallagher Criminal Defense logo sm

So, this brings into state cases an issue that has plagued federal cases for years.  What is a “plant?”  One thing for certain is that a rootless clone is not a plant.

But using the number of plants as a measure of severity makes little sense.  It’s not good public policy.  We should delete it from the law.  Better yet, re-legalize, with legal small-batch home grow.

But in the meantime, marijuana grow defense attorney Thomas Gallagher works hard to defend people caught up in these prosecutions.

Cannabis is a plant.  Marijuana and hemp are legal categories.

Now that hemp is legal, we must remember that marijuana comes from the same cannabis plant.

And though hemp is now legal to possess, the state regulates growing hemp.

The difference between hemp and marijuana is the THC level in the plant.  But on July 1, 2019, Minnesota laws changed. They now define hemp by THC level in the products of the plant as well.

Identification of the alleged marijuana is a burden for the prosecuting attorney.  And if they can’t prove it with evidence, the defendant is not-guilty.

Marijuana grow laws: Another Failure in the Government’s War on the People

Since the 1930s, Prohibitionists claimed that they could stop the Supply.  Then, they would force People to conform.  They seem to believe that government threats of violence, prosecution, imprisonment would stop people from using it.  They claimed that simply making it a crime could reduce usage.

Prohibition increases usage

Of course, as economist Milton Friedman pointed out; curtailing supply increases the price where demand is strong.  Then the price increase leads to increase in supply.  And so the cycle has gone for decades – until now.  The marijuana usage rate in the United States increased from cultural niche in 1934, to a now near-universal social experience.

Blaming the victim for the law’s harms
fight terrorism, buy domestic. NORML. A home marijuana grow shrinks the illegal market.
A home marijuana grow shrinks the illegal market.

In past decades Prohibitionist propaganda asserted that buying marijuana in the underground economy was like supporting terrorism overseas.

But as the government “war” on marijuana imports raged, a funny thing happened.

Economist Milton Friedman was right: marijuana became the number one cash crop in United States agriculture (and still is).

It is easy to grow.  The government’s drug wars against The People are a complete and unmitigated failure.  The government just won’t admit it yet.

Meanwhile, Minnesota Marijuana Grow Defense Attorney Thomas C Gallagher is here to help people busted for growing in the last days of Prohibition.

NORML Legal Committee Member

Don’t be another casualty of the government’s failed drug war.  Fight back. 

Call Thomas Gallagher.  612 333-1500