MN's marijuana rules coming into clearer focus, but retail sales may be later than expected

The Minnesota Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) introduced a bill to the Minnesota Legislature this week to change a few rules and give recreational marijuana businesses a head start.

The office will issue more than 100 temporary licenses that will eventually become permanent, so companies can have some certainty and make investments. 

Temporary licenses won’t allow anyone to grow or sell recreational cannabis, though. That’ll have to wait for the Office of Cannabis Management to finalize the rules. The office expects that to happen by March of next year.

At that point, the office can issue permanent licenses, but officials say it could still take months for retail businesses to open.

"It's not for OCM to determine the timeline between when you're obtaining a license and when your doors open for business," said OCM Interim Director Charlene Briner. "I don’t think that any of us can give that sort of light switch on date."

By March 2025, Minnesota would’ve taken at least 22 months to get from legalization to retail sales. A FOX 9 analysis of the process in other states shows the median time is 14 months. Of the 20 states to legalize marijuana before 2023, only four took longer than Minnesota.

The new rules would also allow social equity licenses to go to teams with 65% social equity investment. In other words, about two-thirds of the ownership has to have been adversely affected by marijuana prohibition — as in, criminal convictions, military discharge, etc. — or living in a low-income area.

Those owners can sell their licenses to anyone — social equity or not — after three years.