Legalized: Hundreds travel to Red Lake for recreational marijuana

Using marijuana for fun is legal in Minnesota as of Tuesday, but there’s only one dispensary selling cannabis for recreational use, and it’s about four hours outside the Twin Cities metro.

On day one of recreational sales at the dispensary Native Care on Red Lake tribal land, hundreds of people showed up from all across the state.

Some of them waited three hours or longer just to get inside.

"Today is a monumental day," said Red Lake Nation Tribal Secretary Samuel Strong.

Tribal members took care of the crowd waiting outside with hot dogs and water, but the star of the show was inside. Customers stepped up to displays of Hella Jelly, Caramel Crème, and other strains. And for the first time in Minnesota history, they legally bought marijuana for fun.

"I got a couple of pre-rolls of Hella Jelly, I think," said Alysha Benson of Fridley.

Red Lake started growing medical-grade cannabis 2 1/2 years ago and Tribal Secretary Samuel Strong says they can grow enough to keep up with demand from across the state.

"We’re just excited that it’s legal now," Benson said.

Native Care is the only legal dispensary within the state for now, and they’re happy for an end to prohibition.

"The war on cannabis was a war against people, so we’re trying to change that and create a safe space where people can get a tested product but also get revenue to our community to help with all the things we need here," Strong said.

That includes investing in opioid treatment and prevention. They hope legalizing cannabis can help with that, and some studies show it can.

Benson does, too, having lost a family member to opioids exactly a year ago.

But the benefits of legalization for this one day are obvious in the smiling faces in line and the sentiment of the first customer of the day.

"A great feeling of just joy, success for the nation here obviously to be opening the first recreational dispensary," said Red Lake tribal member Charles Goodwin, who bought the hybrid strain for the first ever legal recreational cannabis sale in Minnesota.

Red Lake does have a head start on any competition, but there are other dispensaries coming to Minnesota tribal lands pretty soon. White Earth says they’ll open theirs sometime later in August.