Minnesota Marijuana: Inside the emerging world of homegrown weed

A bookshelf covers an entire wall in Bob Walloch’s Minneapolis home. From floor to ceiling, it’s filled with popular novels, art pieces and family photos. However, with one swift pull, Walloch reveals a hidden passageway to his personal crop of homegrown marijuana.

"Occasionally we’ll call it the secret room," said Walloch.

Hidden away behind the false bookshelf is a fully-powered cultivation tent that’s big enough to house four marijuana plants. 

Walloch has grown cannabis at home for the past five years, even before Minnesota legalized marijuana.

While he still cultivates plants in his hidden room, it’s no longer a secret.

Minnesota legalized marijuana in August 2023. Walloch has since harvested his first legal crop of cannabis. 

"It's really liberating," said Walloch, who is currently growing his second crop. "It's like a weight is kind of off your chest." 

Under the new law, adults 21 and older are allowed to grow up to eight cannabis plants at home, with no more than four of those plants in a mature flowering state. No license is required for private home-grow operations and new state data reveals Minnesotans are taking advantage.

One in four cannabis consumers statewide reported growing their own cannabis at home, according to a recent survey commissioned by Minnesota’s Office of Cannabis Management. 

"Some of the best cannabis is going to be grown in people’s basements or garages," said Erin Walloch, Bob’s wife and business partner.

The business of cannabis seeds

The Wallochs operate Canna Joy MN, located in south Minneapolis. 

Along with selling low-dose hemp derived products, the Wallochs are also leaning into the newest phase of legalization as they cater to home growers. They currently operate a seed bank for cannabis flower. 

"This has been a market that has solely almost all been online for, you know prohibition, and so to now be in a store where someone can come and ask questions about seeds and literally be able to purchase them and take them home – that’s a newer experience," Erin Walloch said. 

Regulating cannabis seeds

Under the new state law, cannabis seeds are subject to new oversight from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. About 75 seed labeling permits have been issued since legalization took effect. 

"We look for a lot of the things that the consumer should also look for when they’re in the store – so we’re inspecting those labels, and we’re making sure that they have all of the content that’s required," said Mike Merriman, who oversees the state’s seed program.

At the state seed lab in St. Paul, cannabis seeds are treated like any other crop in Minnesota. The seeds are tested for impurities, germination rate, and whether the seeds are what they claim to be. 

Merriman said that seeds currently for sale on store shelves are required to be germinating at least at the rate of 50%. However, he indicated hopes of elevating the minimum standard to a higher germination rate. 

The integrity of cannabis is vital for home growers like Bob Walloch. 

"Seeds are absolutely a genetic roll of the dice," he said. "Not all seeds are created equal."

Homegrown cannabis sales prohibited 

Beyond the eight plant count limit, there are also a few other rules that govern cannabis home growers.  

State law requires homegrown cannabis plants to be in a locked space that is not open for the public to see. 

Sales of homegrown cannabis is not allowed. However, state law does allow you to give away homegrown cannabis to another individual as a gift as long as the recipient is at least 21 years old. 

The state has targeted early 2025 as a possibility for retail recreational marijuana sales to begin. However, there is a lengthy rulemaking and licensing process that must be completed before recreational sales begin. 

In the meantime, more cannabis consumers are embracing the homegrown aspect of the law.

"You are able to grow a fairly large volume in a small space," Walloch said. "For many people who might use an ounce over the course of a year, you might be able to grow your entire year's worth of supply with just one or two plants."