Hemp industry in Minnesota concerned about marijuana legalization bill

As bills to legalize marijuana work their way through the Minnesota legislature, local businesses that sell hemp products have their concerns. Tuesday, they brought those concerns to the capitol.

"My business dies on July 1st, 2023," said Plift CEO Todd Harris.

"We don’t even know if what we’re making right now is going to be legal," added Jeff Brinkman with Superior Cannabis.

The move to legalize marijuana in Minnesota brings unclear consequences for the state’s burgeoning hemp industry.

"Few will win and many will lose, and the hemp farmers, the hemp processors, and the hemp retailers will lose," said Ted Galati with Willow’s Keep Farm.

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When Minnesota last year legalized low-dose THC products derived from hemp, manufacturing took off - edibles and drinks - adding to the already growing business of CBD oils derived from hemp.

"We have had 21 recreational states pass," explained North Star Hemp Ben Lipkin. "Not one of the 21 recreational states have lumped CBD or industrial hemp into the bill."

But as the bills to legalize marijuana moved through countless committees and towards the finish line, and likely though not guaranteed passage into law this season, those already in the hemp business say it puts them in real jeopardy.

"But the reality is broadening the conversation to actually include people who have skin in the game and something to lose is what’s not happening here," said Harris.

The bills create regulations, licensing, and taxation for any products with THC, which brings hemp growers under new rules and the need for new licenses they say they don’t even know if they can get.

"Legalize and be fair about it and be small business-oriented," said Brinkman.

While a recent and lengthy amendment attempted to appease the hemp industry, many of them small businesses. They fear, as they read now, they’ll be left behind.

"So please, I’ve urged you through these committee stops, take Hemp out of the bill," said Galati.