Cannabis expungement part of marijuana legalization bill signed by Gov. Walz

Recreational marijuana officially becomes legal in Minnesota on Aug. 1 after Governor Tim Walz on Tuesday signed a bill passed in the legislature earlier this month.

And the bill does a lot more than legalize adult-use cannabis.

The big headline, of course, is the fact that adults will be able to smoke or eat or drink marijuana now.

But the new law will include an expungement element that’ll be a much bigger deal for people arrested under the old law.

A round of applause greeted the governor when he signed marijuana legalization into law Tuesday, making Minnesota the 23rd state to allow recreational use by people over the age of 21.

As of Aug. 1, you can have two pounds of pot at home, two ounces anywhere else.

The law also calls for automatically expunging criminal convictions for marijuana possession.

"We’ve got 50 years of folks that we’ve been arresting and getting records on them," said Gov. Walz. "It’s not going to unwind immediately, but we feel a sense of urgency around that."

The governor said that process will start this summer.

People will get notified of expungements cleaning their records, which clears a path to getting necessary licenses in professions like nursing, teaching, and law enforcement.

"Am I proud? Yes. Oh yeah," said Retro Bakery’s Mason Alt.

He helped push the law across the finish line and because of it, he can officially take charge of his own company.

The Brooklyn Center facility already makes low dosage hemp products like chocolates and gummies and they hope to expand into the recreational cannabis business.

A felony marijuana possession conviction from 2018 meant Alt couldn’t own the company, at least on paper.

But under the new law, the same conviction gives him a leg up on cannabis licensing as a way of undoing what prohibition has done.

"It definitely doesn’t reverse every damage done," Alt said. "No. I mean that’s impossible, right? We just have to create a better environment so that everybody can prosper moving forward."

The state is planning to start taking license applications next May and the first cannabis retailers would likely be licensed and ready to go by January 2025.