Minnesotans celebrate cannabis legalization in Minneapolis

In Minneapolis, MN
In Minneapolis, MN(Quinn Gorham)
Published: Aug. 1, 2023 at 10:06 PM CDT
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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (KTTC) – Minnesota officially became the 23rd state to legalize cannabis on Tuesday. While Governor Tim Walz signed the bill in May, the substance became legal to possess on August 1st.

Hundreds of Minnesotans attended the “Legalized It” event in Minneapolis and checked out vendors lining the street downtown.

“Weed is legalized in Minnesota. It’s fantastic,” said one event-goer.

“The energy is very high around here... pun very much intended,” said another.

Several people celebrating made their gratitude toward the DFL-led state legislature very clear.

“I think it’s a beautiful thing that we can get behind it. It’s good for the economy. It’s good for minorities. And I want to give a shout-out to our good Governor Tim Walz for making it happen,” said Abdul Mohamed, who was attending the event.

While some were just happy to celebrate the end of prohibition, others, like Travis Cullen, a resident of Rocester, felt a years-long battle finally turn in his favor.

Cullen was incarcerated for 8 years in federal prison in 2003. He now co-owns a business, selling hemp-derived THC for the time being. He’s spent the last several years advocating for people in similar situations.

“The first priority in my mind is after what I’ve been through. I have to reach out to my brothers and sisters incarcerated and give them money,” said Cullen, “Let them know that I’m thinking about them.”

Cullen hopes to apply for a license to open his own dispensary.

“I’m hoping through the social equity [clause] if it all works out [to get a license], but nothing’s guaranteed,” he said, “I’m just happy weed’s legal and they won’t arrest me anymore for it.”

Under the new law, people who have cannabis-related crimes on their record, like Cullen, will be first in line for licenses. That’s part of a social equity clause included in the law, which aims to bring the cannabis industry to underprivileged communities.

“This was our opportunity to get this done and to start trying to fix some of the harms that were done in the war on drugs,” said Carol Moss, an attorney who served on the advisory board of “MN is Ready.”

While the DFL readily backed the legislation, Republicans have unsuccessfully pushed to stall the legislation.

Most recently, House Republicans sent a letter to the Governor calling for a special session. The letter contained several unfounded claims.

Lawmakers say the first dispensaries will likely open in 12 to 18 months.

In the meantime, it is legal to grow up to 8 plants, 4 of them mature, from home.

You can also gift a small amount of cannabis to others.

Many of the products sold at Tuesday’s event were hemp-derived, which was already legal at low potencies under Minnesota state law.