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Minnesota Marijuana Law

Marijuana Law in Minnesota

Gallagher Criminal Defense logo smIn Minnesota, marijuana is subject to various state and federal Prohibition laws.  Other than large conspiracy cases, a small proportion of criminal cases involving marijuana are prosecuted in federal court.

This page focuses on Minnesota state laws.  The information presented here is not exhaustive.  But we provide a starting point for understanding Minnesota’s current Marijuana laws.

FAQ: Is marijuana wax a felony in Minnesota?

First, a frequently asked question.  Is marijuana wax (or, dabs, THC oil) a felony to possess in Minnesota?

The answer is, “yes, if:

  • a quarter gram or more, or
  • the person charged has a prior controlled substance conviction.
  • the government can prove it’s not hemp.

Lawfully enrolled Minnesota medical marijuana program patients in compliance are another exception.

Now that that’s out the way, let’s make the law simple for a change (while we’re waiting for legalization anyway).

Simplified Minnesota Marijuana Laws
Thomas Gallagher, Minnesota Marijuana Attorney

Thomas Gallagher, Minnesota Marijuana Attorney

We can summarize Minnesota’s Marijuana laws in just a few words:

“In Minnesota, marijuana is either not a crime, or is felony – unless in a car or 1/4 gram or more in resinous form.”

The dividing line: 42.5 grams (about 1.5 ounces) or less of plant-form marijuana is a “petty misdemeanor” to possess.  And, a petty misdemeanor is not a “crime” but a civil infraction.  But, a petty can result in a “conviction” in Minnesota.  (Learn more about: Minnesota offense levels.)

Possession above that weight is a felony.

Minnesota’s 1970s decriminalization law created a loophole, excluding “the resinous form” from the definition of a “small amount.” The resinous form may include wax, dabs, THC oil, etc.  Any amount is still a crime to possess.

Unless plant-form in a car: 

Possession in a motor vehicle of more than 1.4 grams of plant-form marijuana is a misdemeanor.  But if the “small amount” is in the trunk (or similar area if no trunk) it’s still a petty.

Marijuana in a motor vehicle (small amount) is the charge.  But any measurable amount of marijuana wax in a car is still a crime.

Quarter-gram, first-timer law – new in 2017:
Marijuana grown at University of Mississippi for US government.

Marijuana grown at University of Mississippi for US government.

A 2017 law makes a Gross Misdemeanor level crime for certain “controlled substance” possession crimes, for less than 0.25 grams or one dosage unit or less.

But the quarter-gram law applies only to a person “who has not been previously convicted of a violation of this chapter.”  And it applies to possession of “controlled substance” charges other than heroin.

Sale of any amount of marijuana is a felony crime in Minnesota.

The two legal medical marijuana growers can sell marijuana legally, however.


There are many defenses and many types of defenses to a marijuana criminal charge in Minnesota:

Most defense motions to suppress illegal evidence are heard by judge in pre-trial Contested Omnibus Hearing.

In the end, with marijuana cases, we can appeal to the juryAfter all, the jury is the conscience of the community and the last defense for our Constitutional rights.

Medical marijuana
Defenses: weight

Defenses: weight

Minnesota now has a limited medical marijuana statute.  So, an enrolled, qualified patient in the state’s medical marijuana program has a defense to a criminal charge, when in compliance.

In our experience, police will not trouble enrolled patients in compliance with the Minnesota medical marijuana program.

For everyone else, we can consider the common law defense of medical necessity – a lesser of two evils defense.  However, Minnesota appellate court cases have denied defendants a necessity defense even with clear evidence of medical use.

So, the legislature should enact a medical necessity defense statute, to overturn those court cases.  Still, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeated that the defendant has the Constitutional Right to Present a Defense.


Federal and Minnesota statutes divide the cannabis plant into two legal categories:

  • “marijuana” and
  • “industrial hemp.”

Most marijuana is still illegal in Minnesota.  But hemp is now legal to possess in Minnesota and under federal law.  The difference is the 0.03 THC dividing line.  Above is “marijuana.”  While below is “hemp.”

And as a result, the “odor of cannabis” alone is no longer probable cause for a search.

Better yet, prosecutors can no longer rely on just qualitative tests for THC at trial.   They now must have quantitative lab tests to prove it’s not hemp.

Cannabidiol — CBD

The cannabis laws are in a transitional period.   Basically, however, CBD is legal if sourced from “hemp” and illegal if sourced from “marijuana.”  But here again, legal medical marijuana and prescription CBD are exceptions.

For an in-depth look at this see our blog article: Is CBD legal in Minnesota?

Jury rights

That, and jury nullification.  The jury has absolute legal power to deliver a verdict of “not guilty,” regardless of the facts and the law.

Our Other Online Information Resources

Marijuana cases are a large part of the practice of Gallagher Criminal Defense.  So, we have many online information resources on related topics and issues.  And here are links to some of the most popular.


Marijuana Laws in Minnesota

Asset Forfeiture in Minnesota Drug Cases

GallagherDefense.com logo sq schemaGallagherDefense.com:

Marijuana lawyers & laws in Minnesota

Identity of Substance – Marijuana, Resin, THC, Plants

Weight Thresholds for Marijuana

Marijuana Sale Felony

Possession of Marijuana Laws

Marijuana Grow Cases

Medical Marijuana

Marijuana in a Motor Vehicle – over 1.4 grams 

DUI Marijuana

Minneapolis Criminal Law News schema logoMinneapolis Criminal Law News blog:

Marijuana Legalization in Minnesota: What Should It Look like?

How to Avoid a Marijuana Arrest in a Car: Top Nine Tips

Minnesota’s Incomplete Marijuana Decriminalization – the Resinous Form Technicality

Remove Marijuana from Schedule 1 in Minnesota?

Listen to a free podcast on Legalization and practical legal tips with Thomas Gallagher Criminal Defense Attorney and Minnesota NORML Board MemberMinneapolis-911 after the call Talk show with Hosts comedian, Hessley Rey and Jacqueline Maddix aka “Lady J.”

Free download or listen online:


City Pages Minneapolis: New Minnesota NORML chair is a Republican lawyer with tips on driving with marijuana, October 10, 2017

“Minneapolis criminal defense attorney Thomas Gallagher doesn’t just want to clear his clients of marijuana charges; he wants Minnesota to legalize … once and for all.”

Attorney Thomas Gallagher speaking at Minnesota Capitol Rotunda on 4-20

Attorney Thomas Gallagher speaking at Minnesota Capitol Rotunda on 4-20

Thomas Gallagher is a marijuana law expert.  He regularly teaches classes on marijuana laws.  He’s been working on legalization for decades.  And he’s three decades of experience defending clients from criminal marijuana charges.

To discuss a criminal matter involving marijuana in Minnesota, you can contact Minneapolis Marijuana Lawyer Thomas C Gallagher, at 612 333-1500