A new rule governing hemp has made it permissible for food and drinks in Minnesota to include THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that causes consumers to feel high.
Many Minnesotans, including some of the lawmakers who voted in support of the bill, were caught off guard when it took effect on July 1. But what does it actually mean?
The legalization of recreational marijuana, which is still far from happening in the Minnesota Legislature, is far away even though anybody who is 21 or older may purchase substances that will get them “high” in Minnesota. Technically, the legislation that Governor Tim Walz signed into law sets new rules for hemp products, including those that contain THC, short for tetrahydrocannabinol, which has psychotropic properties.
Minnesota now permits the sale of consumable items made from hemp, which is required by federal law to have a THC content of less than 0.3 percent and must have less than 5 milligrams of THC each serving and 50 milligrams per package. Any cannabis that has more than that is classified as marijuana, which is still prohibited across the country.
It’s important to note that Minnesota had previously legalized delta-8, an unregulated type of hemp-derived THC, because of a flaw in federal legislation enacted in 2018. The more potent delta-9 THC is now permitted in Minnesota as long as it is produced from hemp, according to a crucial provision of the state’s new law that governs hemp products. Additionally, the law established regulations for delta-8 THC products.
Since Minnesota traditionally had stringent liquor restrictions and is the only surviving state limiting grocery shops and petrol stations to sell only beer with 3.2 percent alcohol, some have termed the quasi-legalization a uniquely Minnesota version of recreational marijuana, branding it “3.2 cannabis.”
Though is it?
When questioned about the 3.2 comparison, Steven Brown, CEO of the cannabis company Nothing but Hemp in the Twin Cities, smiled, but he said that the newly legal choice in Minnesota did offer a softer base option for THC users.
I don’t believe it’s 3.2 cannabis, but I think it’s pretty humorous, he remarked. “I kind of like to relate 5 milligrams to that first glass of wine you had; you’re not inebriated, you’re feeling nice,” the author said.
Health officials advise first-time THC edible consumers to take 5 milligrams or fewer to test their tolerance and reaction in places where recreational marijuana usage is permitted. According to Brown, 5 milligrams is a decent starting point for many people, and many people, including himself, will even take a “micro-dose” of 2.5 milligrams for softer effects. However, he acknowledged that some more seasoned users are content to take 50 milligrams at a time.
A potentially perplexing legal problem with origins in federal cannabis law is that the THC in legally accessible items sold in Minnesota retailers is chemically identical to the THC present in illicit cannabis.
Federal legislation distinguishes between marijuana, which has a greater amount of THC, and legal hemp, which has a THC value of no more than 0.3 percent. Hemp is cultivated for a variety of reasons, including for its fibers, but it also includes cannabinoids like THC and CBD, or cannabidiol, a legal substance that does not get people high and is already extensively used for its possible health advantages.
Hemp may be used to extract cannabinoids like delta-8 and delta-9 THC and CBD and turn them into edible items. CBD is frequently turned into skin-applying oils or salves that claim to be able to reduce pain and inflammation. Varieties of THC can be concentrated in goods at amounts that make consumers high when they are derived from hemp.
With the exception of one link in their molecular structure, delta-8 and delta-9 are nearly chemically identical THC variations. Brown explained that for humans, this equates to a delta-8 high that is often milder and frequently has less side effects than its more strong delta-9 relative, such as paranoia and anxiety. The Food and Medication Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention disagree that, claiming that unmanaged delta-8 is a potentially deadly drug that has caused thousands of unintentional poisonings.
After Minnesota legalized edible and alcoholic THC products, there are still certain gaps in terms of regulation and enforcement.
The new law may make edible THC products legal, but it doesn’t solve the issue of enforcement. The Minnesota Board of Pharmacy is in charge of regulating cannabis-containing goods, but cities and counties will be responsible for enforcement. Rep. Heather Edelson, the bill’s sponsor, suggested that communities may implement the same licensing system that they use for cigarette sales.
Brown stated that Edelson and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter were present when he brought up this topic at his place of business on Thursday. He expressed the expectation that business and municipal government will soon agree on some sort of regulatory framework.
“At the moment, it is 21+, but what does it actually mean? The key concern, according to Brown, is where it can really be marketed. “Anyone who can get their hands on delta-9 items right now could sell it,” I don’t want to say.
There is more work to be done, according to Brown, who hopes Minnesota continues to improve its legal language on the various cannabinoids to help produce a safer, more efficient product. Those are the immediate steps for the hemp industry and others seeking to relax cannabis regulations in the state.
But in the next years, that could only be one modest step. In light of Walz’s support for full legalization, Edelson expressed excitement about advocating for it in next legislative sessions. Given that Republicans haven’t shown support for complete legalization, the decision may ultimately depend on whether Democrats have control of the governor’s office and both houses of the Legislature.