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.
Marijuana Partial-Legalization Law 2023
In late 2023, we should have a new marijuana partial legalization law in Minnesota. We’ll be updating our webpages. Effective August 1, 2023:
- Rescheduling to Schedule 3 (not 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).
The following addresses the law for cases before the August 1, 2023.
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).
“Are carts a felony in minnesota?”
“Carts” is short for cartridges, or vape cartridges. The container itself is not illegal, but the contents might be. The first question is “what is in the cart?” If CBD-hemp product below 0.3% THC, then the cart’s content would be now be legal to possess in Minnesota, for example. But if the content of the cart is above 0.3% D-9 THC, for example, as of early 2023 it would still be illegal to possess in Minnesota. “Carts is short for cartridges, or vape cartridges. The container itself is not illegal, but the contents might be.
The first question is “what is in the cart?” If CBD-hemp product below 0.3% THC, then the cart’s content would be now be legal to possess in Minnesota, for example. But if the content of the cart is above 0.3% D-9 THC, for example, as of early 2023 it would still be illegal to possess in Minnesota. Finally, if illegal to possess, more than a 1/4 gram would be a felony. (Or any amount if a prior conviction. See details below.)
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.”
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.
There are many defenses and many types of defenses to a marijuana criminal charge in Minnesota:
- defense challenges to the admissibility of evidence,
- challenges to prosecution evidence required to prove the elements of the charge, and
- affirmative defenses
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 jury. After all, the jury is the conscience of the community and the last defense for our Constitutional rights.
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.
“Hemp” cannabis is now legal
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.
Edibles & Drinks: Low-THC Hemp Products
The Minnesota legislature re-legalized low-THC hemp products in 2022. For details, see our article: Low-THC Hemp Products Legal in Minnesota.
- Descheduling of THC for Certain Hemp Products.
- Hemp-product sales of s regulated.
- These low-THC hemp products are lawful to possess.
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:
The Roots of CBD, Hemp & Law in Minnesota
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 lawyers & laws in Minnesota
Identity of Substance – Marijuana, Resin, THC, Plants
Weight Thresholds for Marijuana
Marijuana in a Motor Vehicle – over 1.4 grams
Asset Forfeiture in Minnesota Drug Cases
Gallagher Criminal Defense’s Minneapolis Criminal Law 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
Removing Marijuana from Schedule 1 in Minnesota
“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.
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