The Potluck

Gov. Walz signs bill legalizing recreational marijuana for adults

By: - May 30, 2023 3:01 pm

Gov. Tim Walz signed a bill into law legalizing recreational marijuana for adults on Tuesday May 30, 2023. Photo by Michelle Griffith/Minnesota Reformer.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday signed a bill legalizing recreational marijuana for people over 21. Walz was joined during the festive bill signing by legal cannabis advocates, lawmakers and a minor celebrity former governor.

Beginning Aug. 1, Minnesotans can legally possess up to two ounces of cannabis on their person, two pounds of cannabis in their home and grow up to eight cannabis plants. 

Aug. 1 will also mark the beginning of the state expunging certain low-level marijuana offenses from criminal records.

With Walz’s signature, Minnesota became the 23rd state to legalize marijuana.

“I assure Minnesotans that a lot of thought has gone into this,” Walz said. “A lot of the things learned in other states are incorporated into how we do this and the thoughtfulness around this legislation gives us a really good guiding principle.”

Former Gov. Jesse Ventura, who during the session testified in support of the cannabis bill in multiple committee hearings, said he was happy prohibition of cannabis is ending. 

“It’s very wonderful to see a dream of yours — over 20 years ago — finally happen today, and I’m still alive to see it,” Ventura said.

Ventura during the committee hearings described how cannabis stopped his wife’s chronic seizures. 

The legislation creates an Office of Cannabis Management to oversee licensing and cannabis regulation. Walz said he will begin to look for a commissioner to oversee the new state department this summer.

Minnesotans can expect to see cannabis retail locations begin to pop up in about 12 to 18 months, because officials need time to create an entire legal market from scratch, said Rep. Zack Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids, one of the bill’s chief authors.

Low-dose THC edibles are still legal after the Legislature last year passed them under-the-radar. The cannabis legalization bill implements temporary regulations on low-dose edibles, like testing requirements and ensuring packages do not surpass two, 5-milligram servings.

The Office of Cannabis Management will oversee low-dose edible regulations once the office is operational, said Sen. Lindsey Port, DFL-Burnsville, another of the bill’s chief authors.

Walz said expunging low-level cannabis misdemeanors was only the beginning, and the state will look toward expunging other cannabis-related crimes in the future.

“We’ve got 50 years of folks that we’ve been arresting and getting records on them. It’s not going to unwind immediately, but we feel a sense of urgency around that,” Walz said.

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Michelle Griffith
Michelle Griffith

Michelle Griffith covers Minnesota politics and policy for the Reformer, with a focus on marginalized communities. Most recently she was a reporter with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead in North Dakota where she covered state and local government and Indigenous issues.