Marijuana laws vary wildly from state to state, but even the rules and laws surrounding marijuana in one state, like Minnesota, can sometimes be confusing.
In Minnesota, edibles infused with less than 5 milligrams of THC and medical marijuana are legal. Recreational marijuana, however, isn’t legal but is, to some extent, decriminalized.
But what does that mean exactly? What is the difference between decriminalization and legalization of marijuana in a state like Minnesota? Read on to find out.
What Does Decriminalization of Marijuana Mean?
In Minnesota, possession of certain amounts of marijuana has been decriminalized. That means that, in some circumstances, having a small amount of recreational marijuana on you will not be considered a felony but a petty misdemeanor. Traffic tickets, for example, are also petty misdemeanors. You can simply be required to pay a fine but will not serve time in jail due to the infraction.
However, it’s important to understand that decriminalization is not the same as legalization. In places where marijuana has been deemed legal, possessing it has no consequences.
In Minnesota, its status as a decriminalized controlled substance simply means that it’s a noncriminal offense that results in a fine instead of jail time – but that can change depending on the amount of the substance you have in your possession.
Currently, in Minnesota, possessing 42.5 grams or less of marijuana is a petty misdemeanor as long as it’s not in the passenger compartment of a vehicle. If marijuana in that amount is found in the passenger compartment, then it’s a felony. You also may not possess THC or edibles that don’t meet state requirements. Doing so is a felony.
Medical Marijuana in Minnesota
If you can prove a medical need for marijuana in Minnesota, state law allows you to possess it if you have certification from a licensed healthcare provider who attests to a condition that qualifies you under medical marijuana laws.
You can qualify for medical marijuana in the state only if you are a resident. You also have to re-enroll in the medical marijuana program each year. You cannot smoke medical marijuana, either. It must be taken either through a tincture, pill, oil, or other methods.
The federal government still considers marijuana a Schedule I controlled substance, resulting in the harshest penalties if the government charges you.
It’s important to understand that the federal government doesn’t view it that way simply because it may be legal or decriminalized where you live. Having marijuana on government land, such as a National Park, violates federal law even if the state allows its residents to have marijuana legally.
What If You’re Charged with Marijuana Possession?
Even though in most cases, Minnesota will only consider marijuana a petty misdemeanor, it’s still a good idea to make sure you have legal representation if you are charged with it. An experienced attorney can ensure you understand all the charges against you, the local laws pertaining to your charges, and your rights in the situation. Always bring an attorney to your case as soon as possible.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is an AV-Preeminent rated criminal and DWI defense attorney based in Minneapolis who is known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge and has been named a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law by the Minnesota Bar Association. Mr. Keyser is Lead Counsel rated, and he has received recognition for his criminal law work from Avvo, Expertise, Super Lawyers, The National Trial Lawyers, and more.