A new state law went into effect in Minnesota on Friday permitting the sale of edible products containing the psychoactive cannabinoid THC. Under the measure, foods and beverages can be infused with up to 0.3% THC, although the cannabinoid can only be derived from hemp.
The measure allows foods and beverages to be infused with up to 0.3% THC, provided that the cannabinoid has been sourced from legally produced hemp, which was legalized by the 2018 Farm Bill. The legislation permits edible products with up to 5 mg THC per serving, with a maximum of 50 mg per package. The sale of edibles with hemp-derived THC is restricted to adults 21 and older.
Cannabis advocates say that they are surprised the bill passed at the end of the 2022 legislative session because Republicans in the state Senate have been staunchly opposed to bills that would legalize the recreational use of cannabis. Steven Brown, the CEO of Nothing But Hemp, said that he plans to begin selling up to a dozen new products with hemp-derived THC at his six retail stores in Minnesota. He expects dozens of more products to be available within a few months.
“In some ways, we legalized cannabis,” Brown told local media.
Hemp THC Products Legalized by 2018 Farm Bill
Although hemp products containing up to 0.3% delta-9 THC were already legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, the legislation did not put a limit on delta-8 THC, which can also be derived from hemp. The Minnesota bill was written in part to address the proliferation of delta-8 THC products, many of which have high amounts of the psychoactive cannabinoid.
State Representative Heather Edelson drafted the House version of the bill. She said that the measure is intended to address a public health concern, noting that since hemp-derived THC products have been available in Minnesota, there has been an increase in the number of calls to poison control centers.
“There were these products that essentially didn’t really have regulations on them. But people were consuming them,” Edelson told Minnesota Public Radio. “They were being sold all over the state of Minnesota, and a lot of them in gas stations.”
The legislation includes labeling requirements for foods and beverages containing hemp THC. Products containing either CBD or THC must be clearly labeled and sold only to adults 21 and older. The law does not regulate who can sell hemp THC-infused foods or beverages and does not set a limit on the number of products that can be purchased.
Republican Senator Mark Koran, the author of the Senate version of the bill, said that he followed the lead of state health officials in drafting the legislation.
“With the federal changes in 2018, the [Minnesota] Board of Pharmacy and Department of Agriculture recognized the need for regulations on certain products and worked with the Legislature to restrict the market,” Koran said in a statement. “That’s what this bill does.”
Although the amount of THC permitted is fairly low compared to infused foods and beverages permitted in states that have legalized adult-use cannabis, they contain enough THC to have psychoactive effects, especially for the uninitiated user. And with no limit on the number of products that can be bought, even higher doses are easily available.
“This stuff will get you high, no doubt about it,” said attorney Jason Tarasek, founder of the Minnesota Cannabis Law firm and a board member of the Minnesota Cannabis Association. “Everybody’s calling it hemp-derived THC, which makes it sound like something other than marijuana. But I went on social media and I called it adult-use marijuana, because that’s what most people are going to consider this to be.”
Minnesota Senator Wants New Law Changed
Republican Senator Jim Abeler, the chair of the Senate Human Services Reform Finance and Policy Committee, said that he did not realize that the bill legalized edibles with delta-9 THC, adding that he believed the legislation only applied to products with delta-8 THC.
“I thought we were doing a technical fix, and it winded up having a broader impact than I expected,” Abeler said, saying that the state legislature should consider scaling back the new law.
But Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, who supports comprehensive efforts to legalize recreational cannabis, said that Abeler’s suggestion to roll back the law is “ridiculous,” noting that the senator “voted for it.”
He signed the conference report,” Winkler said. “This is a step forward towards a policy we strongly support.”
Edelson agreed, saying that “Bringing more consumer protections really was my goal.” But she admitted that the new law brings Minnesota closer to the legalization of recreational marijuana. “There was no mystery about what we were doing here.”