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Cannabis edibles containing psychoactive THC now legal in Minnesota

Under the new law, people 21 and older can buy products containing servings of up to 5 milligrams of THC. A single package of edibles — or drinkables — may not contain more than 50 milligrams.

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ST. PAUL — Edible cannabis products and beverages containing the ingredient that gets users high are now legal in Minnesota with a new law going into effect Friday, July 1.

Under the new law, people 21 and older can buy products containing servings of up to 5 milligrams of THC. A single package of edibles — or drinkables — may not contain more than 50 milligrams.

Products must be derived from legally certified hemp, which contains no more than 0.3% THC, short for tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive part of cannabis.

Maren Schroeder, policy director for drug policy reform organization Sensible Minnesota, said the new law clears up confusion on the legality of products containing CBD, the nonpsychoactive chemical found in cannabis. But it also means the state will have control of testing and labeling requirements for THC-containing products that were already being sold in many Minnesota shops.

"You can walk into any smoke shop and purchase any of these products that we've now started to regulate," she said. "We're not legalizing cannabis. We are regulating hemp products. This industry is incredibly creative. They'll find every loophole they can find and that's exactly what they did."

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In California, where recreational cannabis is legal, edible products are capped at 10 milligrams per serving and 100 milligrams per package. Other states where recreational cannabis is legal have similar restrictions. The California Department of Cannabis Control recommends first-time users of edibles take doses of 5 milligrams or less.

Minnesota legalized food and drink containing enough THC for consumers to experience psychoactive effects through a bill aimed at changing state law on the regulation, sale and consumption of cannabis products.

Bill sponsor Rep. Heather Edelson, DFL-Edina, said she was concerned about the safety of legal delta-8 cannabis products already being sold through a loophole in Minnesota law.

"This bill was drafted in collaboration with the Board of Pharmacy and the Board of Agriculture to address illegal products that were putting the public at risk, and young people in particular, with unreasonably high dosages and misleading products that mimicked popular name brand products that were consumed by minors such as cereals, candy-like skittles and Sour Patch Kids," she said in a statement. "Our goal was to close a legal loophole around the sale of products, ban the products from being manufactured to target youth, and create a model that would allow for limited amounts of THC in a legal way."

Edelson said she is already working on future reforms to state cannabis law and looks forward to pushing for comprehensive legislation during the 2023 legislative session.

This year's bill passed in the Legislature as part of a larger health package and was signed by Gov. Tim Walz in May. Walz is a supporter of recreational marijuana legalization in Minnesota, as are Democrats in the Legislature.

The Republican majority in the Senate has resisted legalization efforts, though the bill found its way through a joint committee with Senate Republicans and House Democrats before passing in both chambers and heading to the governor's desk as part of a bigger bill.

"That doesn't legalize marijuana, we didn't just do that," Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, said in a conference committee as lawmakers approved the bill. Technically speaking, he's right, Schroeder said. The new law regulates hemp, a cannabis product from which psychoactive THC can be derived.

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Edible products will be regulated by the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy and must have a label showing serving sizes, ingredients and a warning to keep the product out of reach of children.

Consumable products cannot be shaped like people — real or fictional — animals or fruit, and cannot be modeled after a product marketed to children. THC cannot be applied to existing commercially available candy or snacks, or packaged to look like existing commercial snack brands.

Alex Derosier covers Minnesota breaking news and state government for Forum News Service.
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