THC edibles in Minnesota: Cities, counties left to regulate after legalization

After legalizing THC edibles throughout Minnesota, politicians who approved the law have begun grappling with how to regulate their sales.

According to Rep. Heather Edelson (DFL-Edina), the new law gives cities control to implement policies and enforcement based on what will work best in their respective communities, including licensure, zoning compliance and enforcement. 

"This law is absolutely a positive step for Minnesotans to access products in a safe and legal way," Rep. Edelson said in a statement Thursday.  "That said, with every law we pass at the state level, issues will arise throughout the year when the Minnesota Legislature is not in session. The ability for municipalities to offer important guidance and clarity on day-to-day operations and compliance within a city is vital."

As a result, cities, towns and counties throughout Minnesota have the ability to take a different approach. Edelson said she is working with the League of Minnesota Cities, mayors, council members and others to help develop guidance as communities consider policies to regulate the THC edible law. 

Minnesota House Democrats who successfully pushed to legalize some THC edibles and beverages say they worked quietly throughout the legislative session this year to avoid negative attention that could've torpedoed the bill and set back their ultimate goal to legalize recreational marijuana

The new law allows Minnesota retailers to sell gummies and drinks with up to 5 milligrams of hemp-derived THC per serving, or 50 milligrams per package. It took effect July 1, catching much of the public off guard. 

The THC provision was part of a 400-page health and human services bill that passed the Republican-controlled Senate unanimously on the second-to-last day of the legislative session in May. Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller nodded his approval of the new law, calling it "bipartisan" in a statement and predicting that it would help keep THC products away from children.

But fellow Republican Sen. Jim Abeler, who chairs the Senate Human Services committee, has told reporters he was surprised by what the bill had done. On May 19, after the conference committee he co-chaired approved the THC provision, Abeler said, "That doesn’t legalize marijuana. We didn’t just do that, did we?"

The measure does not legalize marijuana, a point that advocates for full legalization were quick to point out this week. But it allows retailers to sell low-dose THC products to adults ages 21 and older. The law prohibits companies from marketing to children.

Rep. Edelson intends to offer a bill in the 2023 Legislative Session that will provide licensing on the state level, along with other needed changes that arise between now and then.