‘Budding’ new cannabis industry prompts new questions for businesses

Generic Picture of Marijuana Leaves
Generic Picture of Marijuana Leaves(Quinn Gorham)
Published: Aug. 10, 2023 at 9:12 PM CDT
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KTTC) – The legal marijuana market is just getting started in Minnesota, and the new industry has quickly been adopted by many in the state.

As with any new industry, though, there are often questions about certain processes, licenses, and regulations surrounding the product.

“In some ways, you could certainly compare it to other industry booms we’ve seen... craft beer might be one. But it’s really in a class of its own,” said Laura Monn Ginsburg, Partner and Principal with Blunt Strategies.

Blunt Strategies describes itself as a “cannabis public affairs and strategic consultancy,” and in the days since the product was legalized, they’ve heard a lot of questions about the new law.

“The things we’re hearing about right now are, of course, uncertainty about what the regulatory requirements are going to be,” said Leili Fatehi, another Partner and Principal with the firm, “The law that passed [set] the general framework for how the industry is going to function.”

For the most part, those questions deal with the licensing process and how that will transpire once the Office of Cannabis Management is fully up and running.

“There is still a lot of confusion and uncertainty around what the timeline is going to look like for that rulemaking. When is the licensing going to open for application? When will licenses be awarded?” Fatehi said.

Some of that uncertainty also comes from the fact that cannabis, as a product, still isn’t legal at the federal level. That can create challenges in some cases with things like leasing property, banking, and taking out loans.

“These are all things that are major considerations and major risk factors for folks that are moving into the cannabis industry,” said Fatehi, “when we’re working with clients and folks in the industry, what we’re having them do is really think about those uncertainties as part of their business plan.”

She said the new market is heavily skewed toward local businesses in Minnesota, which offers opportunities for distributors and retailers to take advantage of the new market.

“Here in Minnesota, we’re going to have more mom-and-pop shops, we’re going to have more local brands, there’s going to be an emphasis on local sourcing,” she said.

With a focus on local businesses, it’s apparently more important than ever to get plugged in at a local level.

“Find who your city representatives are your local leaders, get to know them, and talk to them about what is driving you to be in this area,” Monn Ginsburg said.

As a reminder, it’ll likely be about 12 to 18 months before dispensaries begin to open.

Blunt Strategies offers what they call a “Minnesota Cannabis Resource Center” for those looking to enter the market.