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Minnesota marijuana laws

2023 Marijuana Partial-Legalization Law

In late 2023, we should have a new marijuana partial legalization law in Minnesota. We’ll be updating our webpages. It will include:

  • Rescheduling to Schedule 3 (instead of full legalization which would require descheduling);
  • Possession by adults still a Prohibition crime, but at a higher felony weight threshold: two pounds;
  • Legalizing home grow of up to four mature (flowering) plants).
  • Civil penalty for growing too many plants.
  • But criminal penalty for “possessing” too much. (Prohibition)

The following addresses the law before the 2023 overhaul.

Minnesota marijuana lawyer & laws

Not all Minnesota marijuana lawyers truly believe in their hearts that Prohibition laws are the real crime.  But Minnesota marijuana lawyer Thomas C. Gallagher does.  You may already know him from his political re-legalization work.  Gallagher’s passion grew out of the plight of his clients facing marijuana charges; devastated by evil laws.

Prohibition has not been around long in human history — only since the early 20th Century.  It made the demand for Prohibited alcohol increase.  Later, Prohibition law increased the demand for marijuana, too.  And Prohibition made organized crime pay, everywhere.

2023: marijuana is legal for use in some form in 37 states
By 2023: marijuana is legal for use in some form in 37 states and DC

As of mid-2023, twentyone of the fifty United States have mostly repealed Prohibition of marijuana.  And more than half the United States population now live in a state where medical marijuana is legal again.

But alas!  Minnesota, once a leader, still lags when it comes to Liberty and marijuana Prohibition.

What to do if seized, searched, arrested, charged with a marijuana crime in Minnesota?   Considering the serious, lifelong consequences, it’s essential to have a good lawyer experienced in marijuana defense. 

And a marijuana charge can trigger a lifetime loss of civil rights to firearms; as well as serious immigration law consequences.

So you’ll want the right Minnesota marijuana lawyer.  After all, you deserve the best defense.

And it will help to understand more about marijuana laws in Minnesota.  Here are some important aspects.


In general, Minnesota’s current laws punish greater quantity more severely.  Seems simple enough.  But there are only a few weight thresholds that matter.  If the prosecution claims a quantity close to a threshold; that can be the difference between a higher and lower “degree.”  Minnesota marijuana lawyers like Thomas Gallagher will use a quantity defense when the claimed weight is near a threshold.

Identity of the alleged substance

The government has the burden of proving identity of the alleged substance they claim to be marijuana or THC.  They usually don’t do a lab analysis until shortly before the scheduled trial date.

They’ve also enacted a questionable “mixture” law.

Gallagher Criminal Defense logo sm. Minnesota marijuana lawyers

Some Minnesota courts interpreted it to mean that where trace amounts of hard drugs diluted in bong water, for example; the water weight supports a prison sentence.  Thomas C. Gallagher is a Minnesota marijuana lawyer with experience challenging evidence of identification.

And the mixture law, subversive to due process, can be transformed into a weapon for the defense, in selected cases.

Plant-form and the resinous-form

A Tale of Two Legislatures:  In the 1970s the Minnesota legislature partially decriminalized marijuana.  It made a “small amount” of plant-form marijuana a petty misdemeanor violation.  Apparently the “resinous form” was to remain a crime even if within the small-amount weight threshold, due to greater potency.

But then, in the 2010s, another Minnesota legislature passed a limited medical marijuana law legalizing marijuana for medical use.  But only legal in the resinous form — based on their idea that concentrates were safer.

So, this raises the question” which is it?  Should the laws favor plant-form over concentrates?  Or should the laws favor concentrates over plant-form?

How about changing the laws to treat people equally under the laws, for every form?

As a result of these distinctions in Minnesota marijuana laws, it can matter whether we have plant-form vs. concentrates.  Plant-form marijuana is marijuana as defined in the statutory definitions.  Its identification include plant morphology and THC level.  Concentrates include hash oil, wax, shatter and are the result of various methods using the plant as a starting point.

When will the People of Minnesota be free?
When will the People of Minnesota be free?

Low-THC Hemp Products – Edibles & Drinks

Low-THC Hemp Products Legal in Minnesota were re-legalized in Minnesota in 2022. For details, see our article: Low-THC Hemp Products Legal in Minnesota.

Key takeaways include:

  • Descheduling of THC for Certain Hemp Products specified.
  • Sale of those hemp products regulated.
  • The Certain low-THC hemp products are legal to possess.

Sale vs. Possession

The seller scapegoat:  Hmm.  Who shall we blame?

The false narrative holds “drug users” to be well-meaning but pathetic idiots; while “drug” sellers must have horns and a tail.  People in the beverages industry had best be careful, too.

Governor Mark Dayton famous 2014 suggestion to mothers of sick children asking his support for a legal medical marijuana Bill; that they could buy pot illegally on the street, or in another state, to treat their children.  True. And then risk a marijuana conviction.

But are these underground economy marijuana sellers really “evil drug pushers?”  Or do sellers provide needed medicine to mothers of sick children on the advice of the Governor?  Minnesota marijuana lawyers would like to know.

What is a basic difference between a sale and a possession marijuana crime?

The “sale” quantity threshold is lower, for every “degree” of “Controlled Substance Crime.” 

So, Minnesota’s current “Third Degree Controlled Substance Crime” has a five kilo threshold for sale of marijuana; but a ten kilo threshold for possession.

Minnesota's Marijuana Attorney Guide
Minnesota’s Marijuana Attorney Guide


If prosecutors charge growing marijuana as a crime, they charge it as a felony.

These days people grow more marijuana in Minnesota than they import into the state.  Until a few years ago, Minnesota statutes criminalized growing based on weight only.

Now though, prosecutors can use 100 plants or more to charge a First or Second Degree “Controlled Substance Crime.”

What is “a plant?”  Sometimes the government overreaches by claiming that clones are “plants.”  Any backyard gardener knows better. But the government often tortures the meaning of words like “plant.”


Those are the basic criteria for felony marijuana crimes in Minnesota.  Minnesota marijuana lawyers like Gallagher see many marijuana felony charges, and even more non-felony cases.

The non-felonies are either

  • a “small amount of marijuana” in plant form; or
  • less than .25 grams (including “the resinous form of marijuana”) for first-time “controlled substance” offenders.

A “small amount of marijuana” “means 42.5 grams or less” (other than the “resinous form”).

Baby cannabis plant
Baby cannabis plant

Small amount of marijuana

Possession of a “small amount of marijuana” is a petty misdemeanor, unless more than 1.4 grams in a car.

A petty misdemeanor is “not a crime.”

But a guilty plea to a petty misdemeanor charge results in “a conviction.” And a public court record.

As a result, most people so charged desire to avoid

  • a public record with the word “marijuana” and
  • petty misdemeanor “conviction.”

But federal courts have held that a prior Minnesota conviction for possession of a “petty misdemeanor” small amount, was actually a criminal conviction — resulting in federal prison time due to inclusion in the defendant’s criminal history score. See our: Why Minnesota’s Marijuana Decrim Law Is Broken; How To Fix It.

More than 1.4 grams marijuana in a motor vehicle

Marijuana in a motor vehicle is analogous to the “open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle” (open bottle law). But that statute covers a “small amount of marijuana” (42.5 grams to 1.4 grams; not resinous form) in a motor vehicle.

And it makes marijuana in a motor vehicle a misdemeanor crime.  The common desire is to avoid

  • the public court record saying “marijuana” and “conviction,”
  • the conviction on their drivers license record, and
  • the minimum 30-day drivers license revocation.

So see our article for tips on prevention : How to Avoid a Marijuana Arrest in a Car in Minnesota: Top Nine Tips 

DUI Marijuana

A high percentage of DUI marijuana cases are false accusations. 

But it takes an experienced marijuana DUI attorney to bring the truth to light.

Federal or State

Most marijuana criminal cases are in Minnesota state court.  But Minnesota marijuana lawyers like Thomas Gallagher see some charged in United States District Court.

Federal prosecutors view Illegal drugs other than marijuana as a higher priority for prosecution.  But the United States Attorney’s Office does sometimes prosecute federal marijuana crimes.

When they do, it could be based on a jurisdiction with primary or more present federal jurisdiction (federal land); or in areas with dual jurisdiction with states, other factors that they view as more serious.   Federally prosecuted drug cases often tend to be criminal conspiracy cases involving multiple co-defendants.

Defenses: by your Minnesota marijuana lawyer

Marijuana is no longer always illegal in Minnesota.

Every year, the cracks in the evil Prohibition laws grow ever wider.  We hope for the day when the people are free again, and no longer need Minnesota marijuana lawyers.

A majority of the People now support legalization — and this is our jury pool for our jury trial.

Thomas Gallagher, Minnesota marijuana lawyers
Thomas Gallagher, Minnesota’s marijuana lawyer

Defenses include those challenging whether enough evidence exists to prove the elements of the charge.  The burden of coming up with proof of the government’s claims, remains with the State.

In addition, there are affirmative defenses such as the medical marijuana necessity defense which can either negate or excuse guilt. 

And First Amendment religious liberty is another affirmative defense. For example see: Religious use of marijuana defense prevails in Minnesota Rastafarian case.

The defense must come up with some evidence to support an affirmative defense.  And if we do, then the ultimate burden of persuasion falls back again on the prosecutor.

Suppression of illegal evidence

Before trial defenses, we look to how the government obtained their evidence.

If one person goes free because a court suppresses illegal evidence, that person could be a risk to public safety.  But if the government breaks the law, we are all at risk.

Minnesota marijuana lawyers like Thomas Gallagher look to the chain of events, for a violation of law by police.

Was the initial stop or Fourth Amendment seizure illegal?

Did police unlawfully expand or prolong the detention?

Did police search the person, car or home illegally?

NLC Minnesota marijuana lawyers member

Was the confession unreliable, involuntary?

Did police provide a Miranda rights warning prior to in-custody questioning?

Your defense attorney can raise and litigate these issues at a pretrial evidentiary or Contested Omnibus hearing.

Minnesota marijuana lawyer can help

Have a question about Minnesota marijuana charges? You can call Minnesota marijuana lawyer Thomas C. Gallagher to discuss: 612-333-1500.

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