Minnesotans age 21 or older can start buying edibles and beverages containing THC — the ingredient in cannabis that gets you high — under a new state law that goes into effect Friday.
The new law allows the sale and purchase of edibles and beverages containing up to 5 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per serving and 50 milligrams per package. An edible of 5 milligrams of THC can cause a high in novice users, while people accustomed to cannabis may need 10-15 milligrams to feel the same effect. Five milligrams is about half the standard dose found in recreational marijuana products in other states.
New THC products must be derived from legally certified hemp, which contains traces of the psychoactive compound, according to law. But 5 milligrams of THC will produce the same effect whether derived from hemp or marijuana, according to industry experts.
“This stuff will get you high, there’s no doubt about it,” said attorney Jason Tarasek, founder of Minnesota Cannabis Law and a board member of the Minnesota Cannabis Association. “Everyone calls it hemp-derived THC, which makes it look like something other than marijuana. But I went on social media and called it adult-use marijuana, because it is what most people will think of as that.”
Cannabis advocates say they find it hard to believe the law passed the Minnesota Legislature given Senate Republicans’ opposition to the legalization of recreational marijuana. Steven Brown, CEO of Nothing But Hemp, said he will begin selling a dozen new THC products Friday at his six Minnesota retail locations, with a few dozen more over the next month.
“In a way, we legalized cannabis,” Brown said.
Rep. Heather Edelson, an Edina Democrat who sponsored the bill in the House, said the new law was born out of an effort to strengthen oversight of the nascent market.
Hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) products were already legal in Minnesota as long as they contained less than 0.3% delta-9 THC, which is the primary intoxicant in marijuana. But this legal threshold did not apply to delta-8 THC, an intoxicating cousin of delta-9. As a result, delta-8 products have been widely sold in the state in various forms and in doses high enough to pose health risks.
The new law’s milligram requirements apply to any form of THC, limiting the market for delta-8 while allowing the sale and purchase of traditional THC food and drink products.
From Friday, CBD and THC products must be clearly labeled and sold only to people 21 or older. Edible products must be in child-resistant and tamper-evident packaging, have clearly defined portions, and bear the label “Keep this product out of reach of children”.
“Bringing more protections to consumers was really my goal,” Edelson said, though she admitted the new law gives Minnesota an example of what legalizing recreational marijuana could look like: “It there was no mystery about what we were doing here.”
The law places no limits on the quantity that can be purchased and does not regulate who can sell CBD and THC products. It also allows cannabis components to be infused into foods and beverages.
Brown is already working with breweries to create alcohol-free THC beers and seltzers that he will sell in his stores. He said he wanted to “promote cannabis over alcohol” to Minnesotans.
Superior Cannabis Co., which has stores in Duluth, Austin, Minn., and Superior, Wis., will soon begin selling THC gummies, chairman and co-owner Jeff Brinkman said. Cafes and bars have already started contacting him to sell CBD products, he said.
“It’s really exciting for us,” Brinkman said. “This is a very good opportunity to demonstrate to legislators [that] legalization is just one step away.”
Tarasek said Minnesota’s new law is a “cannabis industry weirdo.” He’s already fielding calls from cannabis companies nationwide who now consider Minnesota a “quasi-legal market.”
“I get calls from all over the country saying, ‘What is this? We’ve never seen that,” Tarasek said. “They want to get started.”
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