Industrial Hemp Development Act: MN House approves pilot program

In a small but tangible step towards rebuilding Minnesota's once-formidable hemp industry, the Minnesota House of Representatives authorized a limited pilot program, the Industrial Hemp Development Act on an 89-37 vote with bipartisan support. Supporters of expanded availability of cannabis are encourage to contact their senators and urge support for this bill, along with wider farmer access and general legalization for responsible adult use.

The full House voted last Monday to allow farmers to cultivate non-psychoactive cannabis (negligible THC content), under a limited program controlled by the commissioner of agriculture (full text here). The measure is included in the omnibus agriculture policy and finance bill, HF1437, one of several large bills the Legislature passes every year or two. [Update 5/9: Good news: a similar program is included in the Senate agriculture omnibus and apparently Gov. Dayton has indicated he will sign off on the program, according to a knowledgeable source.]

A bipartisan coalition including Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL-Minneapolis), a stalwart supporter of full legalization, and Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria), who does not support personal use or medical cannabis, as well as Sen. Kent Eken (DFL-Twin Valley) pushed industrial hemp for economic development this year. Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Vernon Center), law enforcement lobby ringleader, laid on the fearsauce as always.

In 2014 Franson faced a GOP primary challenger who accused her of going soft in the glorious war on drugs, as noted in our 2014 voter guide. Grumpycat drug warrior Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Karlstad) directly intervened to try and defeat hemp backer Franson. She politely dropped off some fine hemp products at Ingebrigtsen's desk and tweeted it. Franson to her credit resisted drug warrior pressure and instead listened to local farmers, who want to work with a crop they know can provide jobs and economic stability, as well as cover and food for birds. [See Bluestem Prairie: Grumpy cat Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen still grumpy about industrial hemp's infernal roots in Hell, April 2015]

Under Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a similar industrial hemp program was approved in the DFL-controlled House, with Agriculture committee chair at the time, former Rep. Al Juhnke (DFL-Willmar) indicating that both Republicans and Democrats in 'ag world' supported hemp. Unfortunately, in conference committee (where House and Senate differences get resolved at end of session) the measure got pulled under pressure from former GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Legislators deleted the program rather than get their omnibus bill vetoed.

For the better part of a century, the chemical industry and "Big Paper" (including 'Citizen Kane' himself, Randolph Hearst) have managed to block cheaper and more environmentally friendly hemp from undercutting their wood pulp industry. Canadian farmers export hemp to the United States, which has created political consensus among farmers in the Upper Midwest that it's finally time to reboot hemp. Importantly, the legislature would recognize that hemp can play an important role in Minnesota's economy.

MN NORML supports responsible adult use of cannabis, and our members have long been leading the way in calling attention to the economic potential of industrial hemp to create truly 'green jobs'. A limited industrial pilot program will introduce millions of Minnesotans to this hopeful new future. While the other very limited medical cannabis program starts this summer as well, there will be small but tangible policy shifts which we can build upon, until the punishing legacy of prohibition is finally reversed in our state once and for all.

This policy also helps increase pressure in US Congress to expand America's industrial hemp prospects, which will in turn tug America slightly towards general legalization and accepting the wishes of more and more states to dump prohibition.

To introduce the topic, in 1942 the US Government's World War II-era propaganda film Hemp for Victory shows the scale of the industry that was soon crushed:

Here are some points you can please share with your senators, courtesy of national NORML:

Permit Hemp Cultivation In Minnesota

Please support HF 1437, which redefines hemp as an agricultural commodity and authorizes its licensed cultivation is specific circumstances. House members overwhelmingly approved this proposal. I encourage the Senate to do likewise.

Last year, members of Congress approved language in the omnibus federal Farm Bill explicitly authorizing states to sponsor hemp research absent federal reclassification of the plant. Presently, 21 states have enacted legislation permitting licensed hemp cultivation in a manner that is compliant with this statute. House File 1437 comports with this federal language.

In July 2013 federal report, entitled "Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity," the Congressional Research Service concluded that the hemp plant is "genetically different" from cultivated cannabis and acknowledged that its components may be utilized in the production of thousands of products, including paper, carpeting, home furnishing, construction and insulation materials, auto parts, animal bedding, body care products and nutritional supplements. It concluded, "[A] commercial hemp industry in the United States could provide opportunities as an economically viable alternative crop for some US growers." An economic analysis by the Hemp Industries Association reports that retail sales of hemp products in the United States total over $600 million annually.

It is time to allow Minnesota farmers the opportunity to explore this emerging market.

Full text of program inside the ominibus bill (minus some small references):

5.26   Sec. 37. [18K.01] SHORT TITLE.
5.27This chapter may be referred to as the "Industrial Hemp Development Act."

5.28    Sec. 38. [18K.02] FINDINGS; PURPOSE.
5.29The legislature finds that the development and use of industrial hemp can improve 
5.30the state's economy and agricultural vitality and the production of industrial hemp can 
6.1be regulated so as not to interfere with the strict regulation of controlled substances in 
6.2this state. The purpose of the Industrial Hemp Development Act is to promote the state 
6.3economy and agriculture industry by permitting the development of a regulated industrial 
6.4hemp industry while maintaining strict control of marijuana.

6.5    Sec. 39. [18K.03] DEFINITIONS.
6.6    Subdivision 1. Scope. The definitions in this section apply to this chapter.
6.7    Subd. 2. Commissioner. "Commissioner" means the commissioner of agriculture.
6.8    Subd. 3. Industrial hemp. "Industrial hemp" means the plant Cannabis sativa L. 
6.9and any part of the plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol 
6.10concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis. Industrial hemp is not 
6.11marijuana as defined in section 152.01, subdivision 9.
6.12    Subd. 4. Marijuana. "Marijuana" has the meaning given in section 152.01, 
6.13subdivision 9.

6.15    Subdivision 1. Authorized activity. The commissioner may grow or cultivate 
6.16industrial hemp pursuant to a pilot program administered by the commissioner to study the 
6.17growth, cultivation, or marketing of industrial hemp. The commissioner may:
6.18(1) authorize institutions of higher education to grow or cultivate industrial hemp as 
6.19part of the commissioner's pilot program or as is necessary to perform other agricultural, 
6.20renewable energy, or academic research; and
6.21(2) contract with public or private entities for testing or other activities authorized 
6.22under this subdivision.
6.23Authorized activity under this section may include collecting seed from wild hemp sources.
6.24    Subd. 2. Site registration. Before growing or cultivating industrial hemp pursuant 
6.25to this section, each site must be registered with and certified by the commissioner. A 
6.26person must register each site annually in the form prescribed by the commissioner and 
6.27must pay the annual registration and certification fee established by the commissioner in 
6.28accordance with section 16A.1285, subdivision 2.
6.29    Subd. 3. Rulemaking. The commissioner may adopt rules that govern the pilot 
6.30program pursuant to this section and Public Law 113-79.

6.32Industrial hemp is an agricultural crop in this state. A person may possess, transport, 
6.33process, sell, or buy industrial hemp that is grown pursuant to this chapter.

7.1    Sec. 42. [18K.05] LICENSING.
7.2    Subdivision 1. Requirement; issuance; presumption. (a) A person must obtain a 
7.3license from the commissioner before growing industrial hemp for commercial purposes. 
7.4A person must apply to the commissioner in the form prescribed by the commissioner and 
7.5must pay the annual registration and inspection fee established by the commissioner in 
7.6accordance with section 16A.1285, subdivision 2. The license application must include 
7.7the name and address of the applicant and the legal description of the land area or areas 
7.8where industrial hemp will be grown by the applicant.
7.9(b) When an applicant has paid the fee and completed the application process to the 
7.10satisfaction of the commissioner, the commissioner must issue a license which is valid 
7.11until December 31 of the year of application.
7.12(c) A person licensed under this section is presumed to be growing industrial hemp 
7.13for commercial purposes.
7.14    Subd. 2. Background check; data classification. The commissioner must require 
7.15each first-time applicant for a license to submit to a background investigation conducted 
7.16by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension as a condition of licensure. As part of the 
7.17background investigation, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension must conduct criminal 
7.18history checks of Minnesota records and is authorized to exchange fingerprints with the 
7.19United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation for the purpose of a 
7.20criminal background check of the national files. The cost of the investigation must be paid 
7.21by the applicant. Criminal history records provided to the commissioner under this section 
7.22must be treated as private data on individuals, as defined in section 13.02, subdivision 12.
7.23    Subd. 3. Federal requirements. The applicant must demonstrate to the satisfaction 
7.24of the commissioner that the applicant has complied with all applicable federal 
7.25requirements pertaining to the production, distribution, and sale of industrial hemp.

7.27(a) Annually, a licensee must file with the commissioner:
7.28(1) documentation demonstrating to the commissioner's satisfaction that the seeds 
7.29planted by the licensee are of a type and variety that contain no more than three-tenths of 
7.30one percent delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol; and
7.31(2) a copy of any contract to grow industrial hemp.
7.32(b) Within 30 days, a licensee must notify the commissioner of each sale or 
7.33distribution of industrial hemp grown by the licensee including, but not limited to, the 
7.34name and address of the person receiving the industrial hemp and the amount of industrial 
7.35hemp sold or distributed.

8.1    Sec. 44. [18K.07] RULEMAKING.
8.2(a) The commissioner shall adopt rules governing the production, testing, and 
8.3licensing of industrial hemp, including, but not limited to:
8.4(1) supervising and inspecting industrial hemp during its growth and harvest;
8.5(2) testing industrial hemp to determine delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol levels;
8.6(3) using the results of the background checks required under section 18K.05 to 
8.7approve or deny a license application; and
8.8(4) any other rule or procedure necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter.
8.9(b) Rules issued under this section must be consistent with federal law regarding 
8.10the production, distribution, and sale of industrial hemp.
8.11EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day after the federal government 
8.12authorizes the commercial production of industrial hemp in this country.

8.13    Sec. 45. [18K.08] FEES.
8.14Fees collected under this chapter must be credited to the industrial hemp account, 
8.15which is hereby established in the agricultural fund in the state treasury. Interest earned 
8.16in the account accrues to the account. Funds in the industrial hemp account are annually 
8.17appropriated to the commissioner to implement and enforce this chapter.

8.19It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution for the possession of marijuana under 
8.20chapter 152 if:
8.21(1) the defendant possesses industrial hemp grown pursuant to this chapter; or
8.22(2) the defendant has a valid controlled substance registration from the United States 
8.23Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, if required under federal law."

April 20: Yes, We Cannabis! Capitol Rally for Full Legalization

MN NORML returns to the Minnesota State Capitol ** for our 2nd annual rally for full legalization of cannabis in Minnesota. ++ Please join hundreds, perhaps thousands of Minnesotans at this powerful gathering to demand that our state legislators finally end 78 years of the senseless, dishonest and abjectly failed prohibition. As we did last year, we're organizing a diverse line-up of speakers to testify in favor of our movement, which is much deeper than letting people smoke cannabis, especially when hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans already do - and none of them should be criminalized for it.

We're organizing a statewide, grassroots campaign, building our legislative action committee, working on a comprehensive Cannabis Count and providing the public education that will convert members of the Marijuana Middle to join the Marijuana Majority in advocating for a fully legalized, regulated and reasonably taxed cannabis industry with the establishment of personal home cultivation rights and freedom for cannabis consumers. We're calling on everyone, consumer or not, who recognizes the many imperatives for full legalization to SHOW UP:

Full legalization of cannabis is a... 
• Civil liberty issue
• Social and racial justice issue
• Public health issue
• Law enforcement integrity, accountability and effectiveness issue
• Public safety issue
• Economic development issue

Footnotes: ** The Capitol building is under construction, so the actual program will not be held inside the Capitol building. Instead, we'll be meeting across the street at Christ Lutheran Church on Capitol Hill. See the address below. You can take the Green Line of the Light Rail Transit to get there. ++ Here's the rally we held at the Capitol last year, in 2014:

Poll Shows Strong Support For Patients' Access To Medical Marijuana, Rising Support For Full Legalization

Three-quarters of Minnesotans support providing patients with the legal option to consume cannabis therapeutically, while half of Minnesotans also support legalizing the plant for social use, according to statewide survey data by Public Policy Polling and commissioned by the Minnesota affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (MN NORML).

Press Release - Contact: Marcus Harcus 612.749.4332 or [email protected] 

According to Randy Quast, founding board member of MN NORML, “These polling numbers show that Minnesotans views on cannabis are well ahead of those of their elected officials. More Minnesotans now support legalizing the plant than endorse maintaining the status quo, criminalization, and a super-majority of Minnesotans want patients to have far broader access to the plant for therapeutic purposes than is presently provided by state lawmakers.”

23 states have legalized medical cannabis since 1996. Minnesota's medical cannabis law, passed during the last legislative session in 2014, is considered by legalization activists to be one of the most restrictive and punitive of all states because four law enforcement lobbies dominated the legislation which Governor Mark Dayton opposed without their approval. Two companies, Minnesota Medical Solutions and Leafline Labs won competitive manufacturing contracts from the Minnesota Department of Health’s Office of Medical Cannabis, and they can begin dispensing July 1, 2015 to the very small market of qualifying patients. Four states - Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska - have fully legalized cannabis for "recreational" or personal use and the District of Columbia (D.C.) has legalized the possession of cannabis for personal use and home cultivation.

Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, but the Obama administration has taken a hands-off approach to the establishment of a legalized, regulated and taxed personal use cannabis industry in Colorado and Washington. In December, Congress effectively defunded the Justice Department and its Drug Enforcement Agency from enforcing the federal prohibition of medical cannabis in the legal states. Furthermore, Congress signaled to Native Americans that they could begin legally growing and selling cannabis on their reservations if their respective tribal councils approve of it. The Red Lake Nation in northwestern Minnesota is considering the opportunity beginning with their tribal council’s approval this month of a feasibility study. MN NORML staff and board members will travel to the Red Lake Reservation to participate in a community forum in February to encourage the establishment of cannabusinesses there. 

The following survey questions were asked of 811 Minnesotans from throughout the state, January 15-18, 2015, with a 3.4% +/- margin of error.

Question 1: Do you think marijuana should be legalized and regulated in MN like it is in CO and WA?

  • 49% in favor of full legalization

  • 44% in favor of prohibition

  • 7% not sure

Question 2: Do you think Minnesotans should be allowed to consume medical marijuana, or not?

  • 76% - YES

  • 19% - NO

  • 4% - NOT SURE

Question 3: Do you believe Minnesota would be safer and police more effective if they didn’t have to waste resources enforcing marijuana prohibition?

  • 46% - WOULD BE SAFER


  • 14% - NOT SURE

Question 3: Do you believe marijuana prohibition is working more effectively than alcohol prohibition?

  • 26% - YES

  • 54% - NO

  • 20% - NOT SURE

Question 4: Do you think politicians should decide who can legally use marijuana or let people decide for themselves?


  • 52% - The PEOPLE

  • 12% - NOT SURE

Question 5: Do you believe Minnesota’s economy would benefit from thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue that a fully legalized, regulated and taxed cannabis industry creates?

  • 51% - YES

  • 41% - NO

  • 8% - NOT SURE

Below is a statements from Marcus Harcus, Executive Director of MN NORML:

"Despite our progressivism in many ways, Minnesota is known as one of the most conservative liberal states, which places us behind on the advancements in the West and East Coasts with the national cannabis legalization movement. We’re only aware of five Minnesota state legislators who have indicated their support of full legalization. We've heard several legislators tell us that 'Minnesota is not ready for full legalization.' However, Minnesota NORML's first public opinion poll counters that narrative. Our findings indicate that an overwhelming majority support medical access, half of the state supports full legalization and a decreasing minority of Minnesotans support the status quo of cannabis prohibition. Our polling numbers in Minnesota are very similar to national polling results, which is encouraging because we’ve believed that a majority of Minnesotans were ahead of their elected officials when it comes to knowing and understanding that cannabis is safe, while prohibition is dangerous. Full legalization in Minnesota is not inevitable given the powerful special interest groups opposed to it, and it may not be possible any time soon without a robust and organized social movement to demand it resoundingly.

The three goals of our public opinion poll were to (A) find out where Minnesotans stand on the questions of cannabis prohibition and legalization, (B) determine which arguments for full legalization might resonate most with the general public, and (C) identify areas of widespread ignorance about prohibition and legalization which require the most attention in terms of the need for public education. MN NORML plans to influence public opinion to increase support for full legalization in Minnesota. We will organize our base of supporters, but we will be targeting the Marijuana Middle with our public education efforts. The Marijuana Middle represents the 27% of Minnesotans who support medical marijuana, but oppose full legalization. If we can enlighten half of them to support full legalization with the facts that cannabis is not dangerous, but prohibition is, then there will be no stopping us from influencing the political will in the next few years to enable its passage. With our plans to organize a statewide, grassroots campaign, we believe we will influence public opinion to rise above 60% in Minnesota within the next two years and achieve our mission by 2020 or sooner.

There’s a clear need to provide Minnesota’s Marijuana Middle with historical lessons about how alcohol prohibition failed miserably and how cannabis prohibition was established based on pseudo-scientific lies and racist propaganda of Harry Ansinger and the conniving commercial interests of Lamont Dupont who was opposed to industrial hemp. Hemp is the non-psychoactive cousin of the psychoactive cannabis sativa and indica, the dried flowers of which give consumers like me a feeling of mild euphoria. Minnesotans should know that cannabis prohibition has been maintained for 78 years by the corrupting forces of for-profit policing, the financial fears of other powerful special interest lobby groups who prioritize jobs and profits and/or federal grants over the lives of the more than 10,000,000 Americans punished by cannabis prohibition. They must learn that this failed war is based on the economically motivated but otherwise senseless political demonization of a nontoxic, natural plant that human beings have consumed for thousands of years without a single death. They must learn that cannabis has countless medicinal and social benefits, that cannabis is a much safer choice than alcohol, tobacco and most prescription drugs and that cannabis actually helps many people overcome addictions to them all. Countless so-called “tough (but not smart) on crime” politicians are also complicit. Ultimately, the onus for ending the destructive and costly war against cannabis is on our lawmakers, not the law enforcers.

We need the Marijuana Middle to understand how costly and wasteful cannabis prohibition is, that none of the thousands of annual marijuana arrests in Minnesota actually decreases demand or supply. We need them to understand that criminalizing cannabis consumers for possession does not protect or serve public safety when the so-called crime is nonviolent and victimless. Marijuana arrests distract police from focusing their time and energy on preventing and solving property crimes and violent crimes, i.e. real crime. The collateral consequences of marijuana arrests result in the disenfranchisement that we all pay for indirectly. The collateral consequences of cannabis arrests can cost individuals tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost employment, housing and higher education finance opportunities. The punishment is not worth the cost of the unjust “crime” of marijuana prohibition laws. Minnesotans must know that cannabis prohibition is structurally racist due to the fact that 8 African Americans are arrested for every 1 European American in Minnesota, despite relatively equal usage rates – the national rate of discriminatory marijuana arrests is 4:1. The Marijuana Middle must learn that they are the key to helping the Marijuana Majority finally end cannabis prohibition in Minnesota.

"MN NORML is staunchly opposed to the senseless status quo of criminalizing cannabis consumers and we fully support bringing the underground cannabusiness economy aboveground to establish a legalized, regulated and taxed cannabis industry similar to, but better than Colorado’s and the other states ahead of us. It simply makes no sense that Minnesota, supposedly a "decriminalized" state, spent $140,000,000 in 2013 to arrest and disenfranchise nearly 12,000 Minnesotans for cannabis---90% for possession. More than 1,000,000 living Minnesotans have tried it at least once and hundreds of thousands of mostly responsible Minnesotans regularly smoke the dried flowers of this natural plant, which kills no one and safely makes most people feel happy and peaceful without negative side effects. The tragic reality is that these hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans live in fear of being arrested, losing jobs, careers, housing and educational opportunities and freedom. Imagine, on one hand how the state of Minnesota could save hundreds of millions of wasted taxpayer dollars by ending prohibition. On the other hand, thousands of jobs could be created for Minnesotans with the benefit of generating tens of millions of dollars in annual tax revenue that could be invested in public education, public health, public safety, public infrastructure, etc. Governor Dayton and the Legislature could help pay for potholes, roads, bridges and transit with pot taxes!"


MN NORML is a nonprofit 501c(4) member-based advocacy organization founded in 2011 with a mission to repeal Minnesota’s marijuana prohibition laws so that responsible adult use is no longer subject to penalty. MN NORML is advocating for full legalization of cannabis with a regulated, reasonably taxed cannabis industry and consumer rights for personal home cultivation. MN NORML currently has 6,500 members throughout the state of Minnesota and plans to grow its membership through community organizing to exceed 10,000 members by the end of 2015 and 20,000 members by the end of 2016.


Contact: Marcus Harcus 612.749.4332 or [email protected] 

VOTE November 4th!

The mid-term elections are Tuesday November 4th and Minnesotans will be electing all the state-wide offices (Governor, Attorney General, State Auditor, Secretary of State), US Senate and Congress, as well as state House of Representatives.

To learn more about where your candidates stand on drug reform issues, specifically regarding cannabis law reform, stay tuned - we will be launching our "Voter Guide" page that will provide you what we know about the candidates, as well as how candidates responded to our candidate survey. It is very important that we elect more pro-marijuana candidates!

Find your district, candidates and polling place here:

Here are some of the candidates that have been staunch advocates for legalization:
Lee Bauer for CD5 (Independence Party)
Brandan Borgos for Attorney General (Independence Party)
Lena Buggs for MN House 65A (Green Party)
David Daniels for Lt. Governor (Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party)
Andy Dawkins for Attorney General (Green Party)
Pat Dean for State Auditor (Independence Party)
John Denney for CD6 (Independence Party)
Chris Dock for Lt. Governor (Libertarian Party)
Tom Gallagher for MN House 61B (Republican Party)
Tim Gieske for Lt. Governor (Independence Party)
Bob Helland for Secretary of State (Independence Party)
Chris Holbrook for Governor (Libertarian Party)
Keegan Iversen for State Auditor (Libertarian Party)
Heather Johnson for US Senate (Libertarian Party)
Hannah Nicollet for Governor (Independence Party)
Mary O’Connor for Attorney General (Libertarian Party)
Bob Odden for Secretary of State (Libertarian Party)
Paula Overby for CD2 (Independence Party)
Sen. Branden Petersen, MN Senate SD 35 (Republican Party)
Judith Schwartzbacher for State Auditor (Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party)
Dave Thomas for CD4 (Independence Party)
Dan Vacek for Attorney General (Legal Marijuana Now)
Chris Wright for Governor (Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party)

If you are a candidate and still want to respond to our survey, go here:

for more info on this work, contact Jim at [email protected], 612.584.3101

Post-Conference Plans

Looking past the conference, we have an election, then only a couple months until the 2015 Legislative Session!

We will be reveling our full plans for the upcoming year, especially the 2015 Legislative Session at the Conference (Saturday, 10/18/14), then posting them here, on our website, following the conference. A sneak peak: We are going to be having a Fundraising and Membership Drive in November and December this year, after the election, then working to advance a full legalization bill in the Minnesota Legislature this session, maybe working to get full legalization on the 2016 ballot as a Constitutional Amendment! We need to build our base and create a truly state-wide movement, starting with you!

As for our electoral work, we will not be publishing a Voter Guide as planned, but we are surveying candidates and will be adding information about most candidates to our website in the next week leading up to November 4th. We will provide the results of our survey and add some additional information regarding candidates track record regarding cannabis. For some information on current representatives, you can go to our "Whip Count" section of the website here:

If you would like to volunteer to help get out the vote (GOTV), please email Jim at [email protected] Stay tuned for our "Cannabis Count" law-maker cannabis stance tracker tool soon!

Our next Action Committee meeting is the Thursday after the conference, 10/23/14, 7-9pm, at the office in downtown Mpls (1313 Chestnut Ave., suite 115, Mpls, MN), then will go back to every other Thursday from then on (so 11/6, and 11/20 and so on). We will evaluate the conference, discuss electoral work for Nov. 4th, and starting getting our Legislative Action Committee together.

We rely completely on private donations to fund our efforts, so our Fundraising Drive this November and December will be very important to our success this Legislative Session. Please stay tuned to learn about how you can get involved!

We are also now taking applications for Winter/Spring Internships - please email [email protected] with your resume and a cover letter explaining why you would like to intern for MN NORML.  We expect 15/hours a week, working 2-3 days a week at the office downtown, during the work day (and some weekends).   We do offer college credit at a number of institutions.  

Thanks! - Jim, MN NORML

Weekly Action Committee Meetings to 10/18

We our hosting our Action Committee meetings EVERY Thursday (rather than bi-weekly) from this week's meeting, 9/25, until the meeting on 10/16 to prepare for our big political action conference, Legalize It, Minnesota! on October 18th.

Action Committee meetings - for those in the Twin Cities interested in getting involved and joining the full legalization movement!
Every Thursday - 7-9pm, at our office in downtown Minneapolis - 1313 Chestnut Ave., Suite 115, Mpls 55403
*(then every other Thursday after 10/16)

Please come out and get involved! We have a ton of work to do to promote our conference, get MN law-makers on the record regarding marijuana law reform, and to build our organization! This is the most direct way to help out and be a part of MN NORML's work!

if you would still like to be involved but can't attend meetings on Thursday nights, please email Leroy at [email protected], 612.584.3101

Annual Member Meeting and Board Elections Saturday!

Annual Membership Meeting and Board Elections this Saturday, 9/27, at 11:30am-1:30pm, at the office, 1313 Chestnut Ave., Suite 115, Mpls, MN 55403 - please come out and vote to effect the future of MN NORML!

All dues paying members, please come out and make your voices heard! Anyone that is not a member but cares about the movement to legalize marijuana in Minnesota should pay your dues and become a voting member before September 27th and come out! Our organization exists on member dues and other private donations, plus you get a cool pack of goodies and discounts at our events.
Click here to get your dues paid before Saturday -

Every year we have board elections to elect one third of our board. We have 9 positions, but could be growing to 15. These individuals set the organizations goals, help fundraise, and guide the organizations work, and direct the Executive Director, who then guides the staff. We need anyone who is passionate about legalizing marijuana in Minnesota and has experience in political advocacy campaigns and/or non-profit fundraising to run to be elected to our board! To qualify you just have to be a MN NORML voting member (which you can do here for $25/year -, commit to attending one (1) meeting a month (usually the third Saturday of each month, in the morning), be nominated by an existing board member, and support fully legalizing marijuana in Minnesota asap(3 year terms)! If interested, email Marcus and include a cover letter explaining why you want to be on the MN NORML board, what your qualifications are (what you can bring to the table), and your resume - [email protected]

Board elections will occur at our Annual Membership Meeting this month, on Saturday, September 27th, 11:30-1:30pm at our office in downtown Minneapolis - 1313 Chestnut Ave., Suite 115, Minneapolis, MN 55403. All dues paying members of MN NORML are eligible to vote and encouraged to attend this very important meeting (and to become a voting member all you have to do is pay $25/year - which can be done here:, or call our office during business hours - 612.584.3101).

Anyone interested in potentially joining the board should make sure their dues are paid up and email Marcus asap - [email protected], and be sure to attend the meeting on Sept. 27th.

We have a big couple years ahead and you have a chance to be at the forefront of the movement to fully legalize marijuana in Minnesota and add our state to the list of states that are reversing the tragedy that was criminalizing marijuana, and reap the immense benefits this miracle plant can provide!


Voter Guide

MN NORML is working to get all candidates in this Novembers elections in Minnesota to answer our questionnaire, to get on the record about where they stand on marijuana issues. We will be releasing this Voter Guide before our conference on October 18th, and making it available to all supporters of ending marijuana prohibition before election day to ensure that we elect more pro-marijuana candidates and get those that are behind the times and still holding onto the archaic and damaging prohibition laws out of office!

We could use your help to get candidates to respond to our questionnaire. If interested, please email either Jim ([email protected]), or Leroy ([email protected]), or call the office at 612.584.3101 to learn how you can help.
Also, whenever you see candidates out on the campaign trail, bring up marijuana legalization and see where they stand. The more we bring it up the more important of an issue it will be for Minnesota politicians.

We will post our questionnaire here soon, so you can bring it to your representative.

But stay tuned! #mnnormlvoterguide

Tons of Support at the MN State Fair

state fair booth 2014

Thank you everyone that came out and showed your support for full legalization in Minnesota at the State Fair! Special shoutout to those that volunteered - you made it possible, thank you very much!

We raised a bunch of money, had an overwhelmingly positive response from our poll, and signed up over 1,750 new members/supports of MN NORML and full legalization! Our presence at the State Fair was very successful and we now have no doubt that Minnesotans are fed up with prohibition and ready for Colorado-style full legalization!

We need a lot of help compiling the data from the fair and getting ready for the election - so if you'd like to come to the office and help out any weekday between 10am and 5pm, email Jim at [email protected], or call the office at 612.584.3101. We could really use your help! this is a volunteer movement, which will only be as successful as those that step up want it to be.

Stay tuned for our Voter Guide and remember our "Legalize It, Minnesota" Political Action Conference on October 18th in Minneapolis, with a big concert to follow at Mill City Nights (more info TBA soon).

How you can plug in: Minnesota Department of Health releases medical cannabis timeline

Blackberry medical cannabis

The Minnesota Department of Health has released information on the formation of the medical cannabis program. All the meetings are open to the public and soon draft proposals for medical cannabis manufacturer regulation will be released. MN NORML is paying close attention to this program's development. Will manufacturers be powerful out-of-state corporations? Will new medical conditions be added to the 'allowed list'? If we work together we can have a major impact on this rule-making process and push for responsible adult use of cannabis next year at the Minnesota Legislature.

Here is the latest information produced by the Minnesota Department of Health including an upcoming meeting to review manufacturers Friday August 8th, 10 am to 3 pm at the Skjegstad Room in the Minnesota Department of Revenue Building, 600 Robert Street North, St. Paul. There is a meeting for task force members to meet each other on Thursday, July 31, from 1:30 pm-3:30 pm, in Room B144/145 of the Orville Freeman Building, 625 Robert Street North.

The official contact info: "For more information or to ask questions not addressed here, please email requests to [email protected] or call 651-201-5598." When the public comment period starts on the medical cannabis manufacturer plan, it would be great to point out to this board that Minnesota Constitution Article 13, Section 7 clearly states: "Sec. 7. No license required to peddle. Any person may sell or peddle the products of the farm or garden occupied and cultivated by him without obtaining a license therefor." Hence, the only constitutionally congruent recommendation from this committee would be "no license required", and everyone involved ought to acknowledge this bedrock reality.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (creative commons)

Medical Cannabis Program Key Dates

May 29, 2014

  • Medical cannabis legislation signed into law.

June 2014

July 10, 2014

  • Members of state's task force on medical cannabis therapeutic research appointed by legislature and Governor.

July 31, 2014

August 1, 2014

  • MDH releases an initial draft of manufacturer rules and the "Request for Applications" for public comment. The "Request for Applications" is the process by which potential manufacturers will apply to be selected for registration by MDH.
  • Deadline for Commissioner of Health to determine whether an adequate supply of federally sourced medical cannabis may be available, thereby removing the need for in-state manufacturing of medical cannabis for 2015.

August 8, 2014

Mid-August 2014

  • MDH may release a revised set of the manufacturer rules and the request for Application instructions for public comment.

Early September 2014

  • MDH releases request for applications to become a state-certified medical cannabis manufacturer.
  • Official notice of expedited manufacturer rules released (rules intended to govern manufacturer operations from December 1, 2014, to November 30, 2015). The effective date of the expedited rules will depend on Office of Administrative Hearing review.

Early October 2014

  • Deadline for manufacturer applications.
  • Official notice of formal rulemaking published (rules intended to cover renewal period, manufacturer operations starting December 1, 2015, patient and provider obligations)
  • Hiring of initial staff for Office of Medical Cannabis completed (Director, Research Director, Operations Supervisor, Policy Analyst and Administrative Assistant).

November 1, 2014

  • Deadline for Commissioner of Health to inform public and medical cannabis task force whether state will be able to register a manufacturer by the December 1, 2014, deadline.

December 1, 2014

  • Commissioner of Health registers two in-state manufacturers for production of medical cannabis products in Minnesota (if Commissioner has not previously determined that federal sourcing is a viable alternative). NOTE: The Commissioner may request one six-month extension of this deadline if it becomes necessary due to difficulties in finding and registering a manufacturer.
  • Deadline for Commissioner of Health to begin reporting to patients on:
    • Existing medical and scientific literature regarding the range of recommended dosages for each qualifying condition.
    • Range of chemical compositions of any plant of the genus cannabis that will likely be medically beneficial for each of the qualifying medical condition.

January 1, 2015

  • Deadline for Commissioner of Health to publish notice of proposed rules in State Register.

January 15, 2015

  • Deadline for the commissioners of state departments impacted by the medical cannabis therapeutic research study to report on the costs incurred by each department.

February 1, 2015

  • Deadline for Commissioner of Health to complete a report on the design and implementation of the registry program.

Late Winter/Early Spring 2015

  • Outreach and education efforts to potential patients and providers initiated (if you want a speaker to address your group about the Medical Cannabis program, please submit your request to [insert link to speaker request form]

March 2015

  • All personnel hired for Office of Medical Cannabis.

Late May/Early June 2015

  • Applications accepted by individuals seeking to be registered patients or designated caregiver.

July 1, 2015

  • Medical cannabis products become available to patients on the state registry. NOTE: There is a provision in the law for one six-month extension of the deadline if a manufacturer indicates it will not be able to provide medical cannabis products by this deadline.

July 1, 2016

  • Deadline for Commissioner of Health to report findings regarding the need for adding intractable pain to the list of qualifying medical conditions.

News Release. SOURCE:

News Release July 16, 2014

Medical cannabis program organizing two events for coming weeks

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) today announced two upcoming meetings related to the state’s new medical cannabis program. The state’s new Task Force on Medical Cannabis Therapeutic Research, whose public members were announced by Governor Dayton on July 10, will have its first meeting on Thursday, July 31, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. The meeting will be in Room B144/145 of the Orville Freeman Building, at 625 Robert Street North, St. Paul. This initial meeting will focus on familiarizing the task force members with each other as well as their duties as outlined in the legislation.
In addition, the MDH Office of Medical Cannabis will host a meeting on Friday, August 8, for parties interested in learning more about the roles and responsibilities of the state’s certified medical cannabis manufacturers. This meeting will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Skjegstad Room in the Minnesota Department of Revenue Building, located at 600 Robert Street North, St. Paul. This meeting will provide prospective manufacturers and support organizations with more information about the expectations for manufacturers. The topics addressed in the meeting will include a review of the legislation, a discussion of potential supporting rules, some early information about the manufacturer selection process the state will establish, as well as an overall program timeline.
Both meetings are open to the public. For planning purposes, MDH asks that those interested in attending the August 8 meeting RSVP by Friday, August 1, to [email protected] . For more information about the medical cannabis program, please visit the MDH medical cannabis website at . -MDH- Media inquiries: Michael Schommer MDH Communications 651-201-4998


Medical Cannabis

Recognizing the potential value of medical cannabis for treating some serious conditions, the Dayton Administration, lawmakers and advocates worked together to develop a compromise that allows suffering Minnesotans to use medical cannabis in a safe manner. A copy of the final legislation can be found online at Minnesota Session Laws CHAPTER 311--S.F.No. 2470.

As the program is implemented over the coming months, the following materials may help address common questions.

For more information or to ask questions not addressed here, please email requests to [email protected] or call 651-201-5598.

Medical Cannabis Program Key Dates

FAQ on Medical Cannabis in Minnesota

What is Minnesota’s new policy regarding medical cannabis?

Legislation passed during the 2014 Minnesota legislative session creates a new process allowing seriously ill Minnesotans to acquire and use medical cannabis to treat certain conditions. A full copy of the legislation can be found online at Minnesota Session Laws CHAPTER 311--S.F.No. 2470. Governor Mark Dayton signed the bill into law in May 2014, and the medical cannabis program will be implemented by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) between May 2014 and July 2015. The law requires Minnesota residents with one or more of the qualifying conditions to join a patient registry that will be established by the state.

When can Minnesotans start applying to join the medical cannabis patient registry?

Minnesota residents will be able to apply for placement in a patient registry following conclusion of a rule-writing process and the submission of a report on the design and implementation of the registry program. The deadline for submitting the implementation report is February 1, 2015, meaning the patient application process would start at some point after that date in 2015.

When will medical cannabis become available?

The Commissioner will require selected manufacturers to supply medical cannabis products to patients by July 1, 2015. The legislation provides for a six-month extension of this deadline if the state encounters delays in selecting a manufacturer, or if the manufacturer encounters delays in production of medical cannabis products.

Who will be able to use medical cannabis?

Medical cannabis will be available to Minnesota residents whose health care provider certifies them to be suffering from conditions including:

  • Cancer associated with severe/chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or cachexia or severe wasting;
  • Glaucoma;
  • Tourette’s Syndrome;
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS);
  • Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy;
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis;
  • Crohn’s Disease; and
  • Terminal illness, with a life expectancy of less than one year, if the illness or treatment produces severe/chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, cachexia or severe wasting.

The bill directs the Commissioner of Health to consider the addition of other conditions, particularly intractable pain (as defined in statute) by July 1, 2016.

Will people in bordering states be eligible to participate in the program?

Consistent with federal oversight of interstate commerce, Minnesota’s legislation restricts program eligibility to Minnesota residents and Minnesota-licensed health care practitioners.

How will the process work?

STEP 1: Minnesotans seeking to use medical cannabis to treat one of the qualified medical conditions receive certification of their condition from a Minnesota-licensed health care practitioner (a doctor, physician assistant or advanced practice nurse who is providing care to the patient) and submit an application to the Minnesota Department of Health.
STEP 2: After receipt of the application, the Commissioner of Health enrolls the patient in the registry program and issues a registry verification.
STEP 3: Starting in July 2015, Minnesotans issued a registry verification will be eligible to receive medical cannabis for their condition at one of the eight distribution facilities set up around the state by the state-approved medical cannabis manufacturers. Registered patients will pay a fee to help cover program costs.

How much will patients pay to participate in the program?

Most registered patients will pay an annual fee of $200 to participate in the program. There is a reduced annual fee of $50 for Minnesotans receiving Social Security disability, Supplemental Security Insurance payments or enrolled in medical assistance or MinnesotaCare. Patients will also pay a yet-to-be-determined price for medical cannabis products provided by the manufacturer.

How can children or incapacitated patients get on the patient registry?

The Commissioner of Health can approve and register a designated caregiver for a patient if the patient’s health care provider certifies that the patient is unable to self-administer medication.

On what grounds might a registry application be denied?

Applications will be denied only under specific circumstances, such as an applicant providing false information or an applicant lacking certification that he or she has one of the qualifying medical conditions.

Where will the state get the medical cannabis?

The medical cannabis provided to patients in the registry will come from two in-state manufacturers licensed by the state, unless the state determines by August 2014, that it can obtain an adequate supply of federally sourced medical cannabis products.

How will the state select medical cannabis manufacturers?

To become registered manufacturers of medical cannabis, entities must apply to the Commissioner of Health for consideration. The Commissioner will assess applications using several factors, including: technical expertise in growing cannabis and in making medicine in acceptable forms, qualifications of employees, financial condition, security precautions, and projected fees to patients.

When will the state begin soliciting bids from entities seeking to become an approved medical cannabis manufacturer?

The state will begin soliciting bids for medical cannabis manufacturers in late summer or fall of 2014.

Where will the medical cannabis distribution centers be located?

Each of the two registered manufacturers will establish and operate four distribution facilities around the state, for a total of eight. These facilities will be located based on geographical need and to improve patient access. No specific locations have been identified yet, and the process of selecting the locations will require input from the selected manufacturers.

How will the medical cannabis be distributed?

Each registered manufacturer will establish and operate no more than four distribution facilities around the state. Facilities will be located based on geographic need and to improve patient access.

In what forms will the medical cannabis be made available to patients on the registry?

Medical cannabis will be provided to patients as a liquid, pill or vaporized delivery method that does not require the use of dried leaves or plant form. The legislation gives the Commissioner of Health the ability to add other approved forms to the program in the future.

How will the state track the effectiveness and safety of medical cannabis?

With regard to safety and security, there are a number of precautions built into the program. For example, registered manufacturers must contract with a laboratory for testing the quality and consistency of the medical cannabis products. Manufacturers’ facilities are also subject to state inspection. With regard to effectiveness, one of the most important features of the program is a process for monitoring and evaluating the health impacts experienced by patients taking medical cannabis. This information will help patients and health professionals broaden their understanding of the benefits, risks and side effects of medical cannabis.

What are the obligations of patients and health care providers participating in the state’s medical cannabis program?

As part of their certification and participation in the program, patients must agree to continue receiving treatment for their condition. Participating health care providers must agree to provide ongoing reports about the patient’s health status/condition to the Minnesota Department of Health.


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