Minnesota Breweries See Benefits From State’s Cannabis Law

The new Minnesota measure created a distinction between hemp and pot-derived beverages.

A new cannabis law in Minnesota has the state’s craft brewers buzzing with excitement.

Local news station KARE reports that industry leaders “actually sought more regulations of THC-infused beverages as part of the adult-use cannabis bill, and came away very happy with the legislation Gov. Walz signed into law.”

According to the station, the new law “sets firm ground rules around who can make and sell low-dose hemp-derived THC drinks,” while also expanding “the market for those beverages because the same bill allows liquor stores to sell them for the first time.”

“It’s not every day you approach legislators and say, ‘Can we get more taxes? Can we get more regulations?’ but at the end of the day, our members wanted to make sure we were doing this in a legitimate and solidified way,” Bob Galligan of the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild told KARE.

“Not quite everyone realizes just how revolutionary the actual low-dose, hemp-derived market is that we have in Minnesota.”

That market sprung up last year, after a new law took effect in Minnesota that allowed food and beverages to be infused with up to 0.3% THC.

The measure surprised a number of state lawmakers, particularly Republicans, who were unaware that they had effectively legalized marijuana in the state. 

A year later, Minnesota legislators went even further, becoming the 23rd state to legalize recreational cannabis after Walz signed a bill into law in May.

“We’ve known for too long that prohibiting the use of cannabis hasn’t worked. By legalizing adult-use cannabis, we’re expanding our economy, creating jobs, and regulating the industry to keep Minnesotans safe,” Walz said at a signing ceremony. “Legalizing adult-use cannabis and expunging or resentencing cannabis convictions will strengthen communities. This is the right move for Minnesota.”

Minnesota Lieutenant Gov. Peggy Flanagan added: “Legalizing adult-use cannabis is about keeping our communities safe, advancing justice for Minnesotans, and investing in a strong economic future. Prohibiting the use of cannabis hasn’t worked and has disproportionately harmed communities of color across the state. By expunging nonviolent cannabis convictions, we are removing the barriers that prevent thousands of Minnesotans from fully returning to work, to their communities, and to their lives. This is how we make safer communities.”

As with most other legalization laws, Minnesota’s new measure allows adults aged 21 and older to possess and use cannabis, establishes a regulatory framework to set up a legal retail pot market, and creates a path for previous marijuana-related convictions to be expunged. 

According to KARE, the new law imposes a 10% state tax on hemp-derived beverages, and distinguishes “the difference between hemp-derived products and those made from marijuana.”

“It recognized hemp as a federally legal product. We as brewers would not be able to sell a marijuana product. That would be federally illegal,” Dan Justesen, who owns and operates Utepils Brewing in Minneapolis, told the station. “The bill recognized what we were doing uniquely in Minnesota and kept it alive, allowing a lot of very small breweries like us to have a foot in the door and stay in the door.”

Justesen continued: “We saw the consumers liked it, wanted it and were buying, and so we looked at the reality we had coming out of COVID and dollars in means we stay open,” Justesen explained. “The legal serving size in Minnesota is 5 milligrams, so again, that’s us being a little bit conservative with how it started. The majority of Minnesotans, this was going to be a very new experience for them, or one they may not have had for a few decades. So, we thought giving them something that’s just gonna make them feel happy and not out of it was the way for us to go.”

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