Minnesota hemp laws
Minnesota started its Hemp Pilot Program in 2016, which was run and organized by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA). The Department followed the guidance in the 2014 U.S. Farm Bill to outline the state’s plan. Under this Bill universities, institutions of higher learning, and the state Department of Agriculture could grow the plant for research purposes.
Although the program only welcomed six licensed growers in the 2016 season, the number of growers and acres planted continues to increase each year. In fact, during 2019, there were 350 licensed hemp growers. That number skyrocketed when the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 became law.
This Act updated and revised the 2014 Farm Bill in extraordinary ways. The first major change was the removal of industrial hemp as an illegal Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Prior to this change, hemp was lumped together with marijuana. So, at the federal level, it was illegal to grow and consume hemp.
The second significant change this Improvement Act had was to make it federally legal for farmers and businesses to cultivate industrial hemp for agricultural and commercial purposes. To give you some context, the U.S. federal government put an end to hemp farming (even though it was a cash crop) way back in 1937. Needless to say, 2018 marked a big year for industrial hemp.
During 2018, all qualified and approved applicants could grow hemp for commercial reasons. And that’s why you see the huge spike in licensed Minnesota growers from 43 in 2018 to 350 in 2019. There was a substantial increase for licensed processors as well, increasing from 8 in 2018 to 49 in 2019.
To be crystal clear, here’s how the 2018 Farm Bill and the MDA’s Industrial Hemp Program defines the word hemp. “Hemp is the plant Cannabis sativa L., and any part of the plant, whether growing or not, including the seeds, and all its derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, containing a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”
Who Can Grow Hemp Flower in Minnesota
To take part in commercial hemp farming, all interested persons or businesses must apply for a license. The application process goes through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. As of the date of this writing, the MDA follows the guidelines under its Hemp Pilot Program until its permanent plan gets approved by the USDA.
Some of the requirements for a growing or processing license include completing an application online. Also, there are certain fees required and each person must pass a criminal background check, both at the state and federal levels.
Anyone who has a drug-related felony within the past 10 years cannot apply for a license. However, individuals that fall under this category, can still work for a hemp farmer or processor. Only the person applying for the actual license must pass the background check.
Also, as of 2020, license holders cannot grow, process, or store hemp in a residential dwelling. Instead, all of these activities must take place on an outdoor field, or inside a facility, such as a warehouse, or greenhouse. All spaces selected as the “growing, processing, and storing” areas must get registered with the MDA.
Furthermore, these areas are subject to inspections by the Department of Agriculture. And within 30 days of the harvest date, the licensee must contact the MDA to arrange a field test. This test involves taking a sample of the hemp crop and screening its THC levels. If the tetrahydrocannabinol content is higher than 0.3%, the department allows one more sample.
However, if the plants fail again, the grower must destroy his or her hemp crops. Some states like Michigan are appealing to the USDA to have this law revised. The goal is to find a better alternative so there’s not a huge loss in money and time, and most importantly of the plants themselves.
What Type of Hemp Products are Legal?
As of January 1, 2020, the state of Minnesota made it legal to sell hemp products as outlined in M.S. 151.72. This includes all product types, except food. The FDA is responsible for regulating the marketing of food products. So, until the Agency says what is, and what is not allowed, as far as CBD edibles go, Minnesota doesn’t want them sold within state lines.
However, products like CBD tinctures, flower, vape oils, and topicals are good to go. As long as they meet some basic requirements as presented in Minnesota Statute 151.72. Here’s a breakdown on those rules:
- The amount or percentage of the hemp-plant cannabinoids (i.e. CBD and THC) must be included on the product label.
- Must be free of pesticides, heavy metals, and fertilizers. The tests to prove this must come from an independent, third-party lab.
- The hemp-derived CBD product cannot contain more than 0.3% THC.
- The product label needs to include the name, address, and contact number of the manufacturer.
- An FDA disclaimer saying that the “products are not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any disease.” This statement needs to be visible and easy to read.
Is CBD flower legal in Minnesota?
Yes, it’s legal to buy and consume hemp flower in Minnesota. The one catch, however, that’s worth reiterating. It must have less than 0.3% THC. This is very important because a strain with higher levels of THC is illegal without a medical marijuana card.
Even though CBD flower’s legal in your state doesn’t mean you can smoke it anywhere you want. That would be nice though, right? Like many other states in the country, smoking hemp flower, or any cannabis plant for that matter, must be done in private. No lighting up a pre-rolled joint in the middle of a public park or outside your office.
To the untrained eye, there’s no difference between a CBD nug and a marijuana bud. They have the same shape and smell. And when rolled in a joint or smoked from your pipe, there’s no way to know what the THC content is. Said differently, how would an officer, or your neighbor know if you’re smoking legal hemp flower or the federally illegal kind — Mary Jane.
Where to buy CBD flower in Minnesota
It depends. Do you prefer going into a store to shop, or are you more of the online shopping type? Either way, you’ll find flower in stores within Minnesota or from online retail dispensaries in other states around the U.S.
The most important thing in the buying process is to find really good, high-quality hemp flower. But to do that you have to know what to look for. Let’s get into that topic now.
Premium hemp flower & how to find it
Before spending your cash on CBD buds, make sure you’re getting the good stuff. The top qualities that define premium hemp flower include the location where it grew, how it grew (organically or not), and weather it was cured.
Where did it grow?
Hemp grown in the United States must abide by strict agricultural rules and testing requirements. Each state Department of Agriculture has a set Industrial Hemp Program that licensed growers must follow. These rules set a high standard to ensure you, the end user, have access to good quality hemp.
How was it grown?
As you read above, the MDA doesn’t allow the use of fertilizers, heavy metals, or pesticides on hemp plants grown in Minnesota. This is a fantastic law that protects the health of those wanting to smoke hemp flower or consume it in other ways.
Not all states enforce this, but growers decide to go the organic route on their own. So look for organic CBD nugs when you’re shopping for flower in person or online.
Was it cured?
What does this mean? Curing the harvested hemp buds is a process similar to making homemade jam. After drying the buds, it’s time for a slow cure. The company puts the nugs in a glass jar or container with an airtight lid. And they’re stored in a cool, dark place. Some companies cure their buds for a few weeks, a month, or even several months.
The point of curing is to preserve the terpenes of the flower. This is where the smell and taste of the CBD buds come from. Also, terpenes have therapeutic properties. In short, the longer the cure the better. And a cure is better than no cure at all, so look out for this or ask the question to the CBD company if you’re unsure.
As a resident or visitor of Minnesota, it’s legal to buy hemp flower. To smoke it, do so in a private space to keep yourself protected. And before you buy hemp flower verify it grew in the U.S., was raised organically, and went through a curing process.