Minnesota has legalized cannabis, becoming the 23rd state to do so. Democratic Governor Tim Walz signed the bill into law on Tuesday.
Minnesota’s legal cannabis regime includes expunging past criminal records, although the government admits this will be a lengthy process. Likewise, licensed stores may be 18 months away.
In the meantime, Minnesota residents over 21 can possess up to two ounces of flower in public and two pounds at home. Growing cannabis on your private property is also legal (or will be, as of August 1st).
Minnesota Legalizes Cannabis
Minnesota’s legal cannabis regime joins 22 other states and Washington D.C. in a movement that was unfathomable fifteen years ago.
Thirty-eight states have legal, medical cannabis programs, including “Red” states that many associate with anti-cannabis attitudes.
Federally, CBD and other cannabinoids are legal. Companies have been able to amplify small amounts of delta-8 THC so consumers can get high from legal hemp.
Only Idaho and Nebraska are still firmly in the prohibitionist camp.
But while Minnesota and 22 other states enjoy legal cannabis, federally, getting meaningful cannabis reform is like pushing on a string.
Congress has yet to either legalize cannabis or pass banking legislation to help the cannabis industry in states that have legalized it.
Biden’s pardon was a virtue signal. The only silver lining was asking the Attorney General to “review” how they schedule cannabis under federal law.
Currently, the government classifies cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it has no medical value and a high potential for addiction and abuse. Cannabis shares this category with heroin.
Will the U.S. Ever Legalize Cannabis?
With Minnesota legalizing cannabis and joining the states that have said no to prohibition, the question remains, will the federal U.S. government ever legalize cannabis?
Cannabis companies have taken a beating in share prices over the last three years. An incoming Biden administration fuelled anticipation that legalization was right around the corner.
When that didn’t happen, investors placed their hopes in banking reform. Now they’re getting wise that it isn’t happening before the next election.
However, if there’s any hope, it’s in Minnesota legalizing cannabis. Unlike other legal states, there’s no recreational market surrounding Minnesota. As far as midwestern states go, they’re an outlier.
A legal cannabis market in Minnesota may pressure its neighbors to follow suit. It may be that the feds are waiting until all fifty states legalize cannabis before acting.
There’s speculation that Ohio, Florida, New Hampshire and Hawaii will be legalizing cannabis this year, or at the very least, asking voters to cast a ballot on the question.
An Example of States’ Rights
Minnesota legalizing cannabis – and indeed, every state defying federal prohibition laws – is an example of states’ rights.
States’ rights are often associated with the Civil War and slavery; therefore, only racist bigots refer to this American tradition.
But this is the opinion of a useful idiot. The U.S. is a federal state. There is a division of powers between the federal government and the individual states. There are certain things the federal government can’t do.
Of course, how the U.S. is supposed to work versus how it actually works are two different things. If the federal government stuck to its constitutional limits, it couldn’t have outlawed cannabis. Let alone launching an entire drug war.
Many decry using states’ rights to legalize cannabis and want the feds to step in with a one-size-fits-all approach.
But consider the advantages of the local approach:
Greater local autonomy, allowing lawmakers to address specific regional concerns. Different states may have different cannabis cultures, requiring tailored-made regulations
Fosters innovation, with many different approaches getting tested in the marketplace.
It’s a critical check on federal power. Since Colorado legalized weed, it’s become clear cannabis has won the U.S. government’s drug war.
States’ rights protect minority interests since power is decentralized to a local level. One can imagine if Canada took the states’ rights approach to cannabis. Ottawa never would have been able to decimate B.C. Bud with their anti-market policies and excessive taxes.