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Minnesota Marijuana Law

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Marijuana Law in Minnesota

In Minnesota, marijuana is subject to various state and federal Prohibition laws.  But other than large conspiracy cases, few marijuana cases are in federal court.

This page focuses on Minnesota state laws.  The information 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?

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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

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

“In Minnesota, cannabis is presumptively legal; but ‘marijuana’ is either not a crime; or is felony – unless in a car, or 1/4 gram or less in resinous form.”

Thomas Gallagher, Minnesota's Marijuana Attorney
Thomas Gallagher, Minnesota’s Marijuana Attorney

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.

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

So in truth, Minnesota has only partial decriminalization of a small amount.

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.

Thin Soup: Quarter-gram, first-timer law – new in 2017:

A 2017 law creates a Gross Misdemeanor for certain “controlled substance” possession crimes; for less than 0.25 grams or one dosage unit.

But the quarter-gram law only applies to a person “not … previously convicted [under] this chapter.”  And it applies only 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.

Defenses: weight
Defenses: weight


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

And we argue most defense motions to suppress evidence, to a 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

Minnesota now has a limited medical marijuana statute.  So, an enrolled 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.

But 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.  But still, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeated that the defendant has the Constitutional Right to Present a Defense. And without the right to present any defense, the “right” to a jury trial is a sham.

Marijuana grown at University of Mississippi for US government.
Marijuana grown at University of Mississippi for US government.

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.   But, CBD is legal if 0.30 percent THC or less by dry weight volume.  But here again, legal medical marijuana and prescription CBD are legal, regardless.

For an in-depth look at this see our blog articles: 

CBD is legal now in Minnesota

The Roots of CBD, Hemp & Law 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.

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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

Asset Forfeiture in Minnesota Drug Cases

Gallagher Criminal Defense’s Minneapolis Criminal Law blog:

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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

Removing Marijuana from Schedule 1 in Minnesota

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


“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.”

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

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.  And he regularly teaches classes on marijuana laws.  He’s been working on legalization for decades.  And he has three decades of experience defending clients from criminal marijuana charges.

Like to discuss a criminal matter involving marijuana in Minnesota?

You can contact Minneapolis Marijuana Lawyer Thomas C Gallagher, at 612 333-1500