Minnesota Senate Still Stands Against Recreational Weed Reform
It seems as if states all around Minnesota are making recreational marijuana legal. However, Minnesota doesn’t seem quite ready to make the leap – though some lawmakers are trying.
Last year, Democratic leaders in the legislature introduced a bill that would legalize marijuana in the state comprehensively. The coronavirus held up that legislation, but Republican lawmakers did not seem eager to embrace the bill and the changes it would bring to the state.
There are many reasons that legalization would help Minnesota, from jobs to tax revenue, but it remains illegal. In fact, if you are caught with marijuana in the state, there are some serious legal consequences you could face.
Here’s what anyone who partakes in this state should know about the laws and penalties surrounding recreational marijuana.
Is Marijuana Ever Legal in Minnesota?
In 2014, Minnesota approved a medical marijuana program. This program, administered by the state’s Department of Health, allows health professionals to prescribe marijuana for certain medical conditions. That said, only certain forms of marijuana are legal in the state.
Medical patients cannot smoke marijuana leaves, but they can possess oils and pills with THC as well as cannabis compounds that can be taken via a vaporizer.
In order to join the medical cannabis program in the state, patients must register through a healthcare provider to obtain and use medical marijuana. If you are not a part of this program and are caught with marijuana, then you can face criminal penalties.
Possession of Marijuana in Minnesota
When medical marijuana became legal in 2014 in the state, some amounts of marijuana were decriminalized, meaning if you’re caught with it, then you won’t be charged.
In Minnesota, being found in possession of fewer than 42.5 grams can set you up for a charge of a petty misdemeanor and a $200 fine.
If up to 1.4 grams is found in your car (not in the trunk), it’s also a misdemeanor that can result in up to three months in jail and fines of $1,000.
Anything above 42.5 grams in your possession can expose you to felony charges for possession. Let’s take a closer look at how a felony possession conviction might shake out.
Felony Marijuana Possession
If you are caught with more than 42.5 grams of marijuana in your possession, then you can face criminal felony charges. These charges depend on how much marijuana you have in your possession:
- For 42.5 grams of marijuana to 10 kilos, then you can face up to five years in prison and be responsible for fines up to $5000
- For 10 to 50 kilos of marijuana, you can face up to 20 years in prison and be responsible for fines of up to $250,000
- For 50 to 100 kilos of marijuana, you face up to 25 years in prison and fines up to $500,000
- For 100 or more kilos of marijuana, you can spend up to 30 years in prison and pay fines up to $1 million
The court will also take into account if you have any prior offenses related to possession of marijuana, even misdemeanors. If you do, then you may also be sentenced to participate in a chemical dependency program.
Penalties for the Sale of Marijuana
It is illegal to sell marijuana in Minnesota as well and the penalties for this crime also depend on how much marijuana is found in your possession with the intent to sell it:
- Less than 42.5 grams is a petty misdemeanor, resulting in up to $200 in fines
- 5 grams to 5 kilos is a felony carrying up to five years in prison and fines of $10,000
- 5 to 25 kilos is a felony and can result in up to 20 years in prison and fines of $250,000
- 25 to 50 kilos is a felony and can result in up to 25 years in prison and fines of $500,000
- 50 kilos or more can result in up to 30 years in prison and fines of $1 million
If you are found in possession of five kilograms or more of marijuana with the intent to sell in a school or public housing zone or park, then you can face up to 25 years in prison and fines of up to $500,000.
Most people don’t think of marijuana as a “hard” drug and so they may not give a lot of thought to the consequences of possession or sale. However, it’s important to understand that Minnesota does take possession and sale of marijuana seriously over a certain amount.
Being convicted of the possession or sale of marijuana can have an impact on future employment, schooling, and even housing, so it’s crucial to understand your rights if you are charged with possession in the state.
About the Author:
A lifelong Minnesotan, founding partner Ronald R. Envall has spent his entire legal career fighting for the little guy, focusing on workers’ compensation, Social Security, and personal injury cases. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers as a Top Rated Attorney in Duluth, placing him in the top 5 percent of all workers comp lawyers across the state. In his free time, Mr. Envall serves on the boards of several area government and nonprofit organizations and is a member of the Minnesota Association for Justice, which supports consumer rights.