Marijuana Law in Minnesota

In Minnesota, marijuana is subject to various state and federal Prohibition laws.  Other than large conspiracy cases, a small proportion of criminal cases involving marijuana are prosecuted in federal court.

This page focuses on Minnesota state laws.  The information presented here is not exhaustive.  But we provide a starting point for understanding Minnesota’s current Marijuana laws.

FAQ: Is marijuana wax a felony in Minnesota?

First, a frequently asked question.  Is marijuana wax (or, dabs, THC oil) always felony to possess in Minnesota?

The answer is, “yes, if a quarter gram or more, or if the person charged has a prior controlled substance conviction.  Now that that’s out the way, let’s make the law simple for a change (while we’re waiting for legalization anyway).

Simplified Minnesota Marijuana Laws
Thomas Gallagher, Federal Criminal Defense Attorney
Thomas Gallagher, Minnesota Marijuana Attorney

We can summarize Minnesota’s Marijuana laws in just a few words:

“In Minnesota, marijuana is either not a crime, or is felony – unless it is in a car or in derivative form (e.g., THC oil, dabs, wax) of 1/4 gram or more. “

Marijuana grow
Marijuana grown at University of Mississippi for US government.
The dividing line: For possession “crimes,”  42.5 grams or less (about 1.5 ounces or less) of plant-form marijuana is a “petty misdemeanor.”  A petty misdemeanor is not a “crime” but a civil infraction.  A petty can, however, result in a “conviction” in Minnesota.

Possession above that weight is a felony. A loophole in Minnesota’s 1970s decrim law created an exception in the definition of a “small amount” for “the resinous form” of marijuana.  The resinous form may include wax, dabs, THC oil,etc.  Any amount is still a crime to possess.

Unless it is in a car (plant-form): 

Possession of more than 1.4 grams of plant-form marijuana (unless in the trunk or similar area of a vehicle without a trunk) is a misdemeanor “crime.”  Marijuana in a motor vehicle (small amount) is the charge.  Any measurable amount of marijuana wax in a car is still a crime however.

Quarter-gram, first-timer law – new in 2017:

A 2017 law makes a Gross Misdemeanor level crime for certain “controlled substance” possession crimes, for less than 0.25 grams or one dosage unit or less.   But the law applies only to a person “who has not been previously convicted of a violation of this chapter.  It applies to possession of “controlled substances” charges other than heroin.

Sale of any amount is a felony crime in Minnesota.


Defenses: weight
Defenses: weight

There are many defenses and many types of defenses to a marijuana criminal charge in Minnesota:

  • defense challenges to the admissibility of evidence,
  • challenges to prosecution evidence required to prove the elements of the charge, and
  • affirmative defenses

In the end, with marijuana cases, we can appeal to the jury as the conscience of the community and the last line of defense for our Constitutional rights.

Medical marijuana

Minnesota now has an extremely limited medical marijuana statute.  To have a statutory medical marijuana defense to a criminal charge, you must have been an enrolled, qualified patient in Minnesota’s limited medical marijuana program.  In our experience, police will not trouble enrolled patients in compliance with the Minnesota medical marijuana program.

For those not enrolled, we then must rely on the old common law defense of medical necessity – a lesser of two evils defense.  There are, however, Minnesota appellate court cases that have denied defendants a necessity defense even where clear evidence existed of medical use.

This is why the legislature should pass a new law to enact a medical necessity defense statute, to overturn those court cases.  Still, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeated that the defendant has the Constitutional Right to Present a Defense.


Federal and Minnesota statutes divide the cannabis plant into two legal categories: “marijuana”and “industrial hemp.”  Most marijuana is still illegal.  Hemp is effectively legal.  The difference is the 0.03 THC dividing line.  Above is “marijuana.”  While below is “hemp.”

Cannabidiol — CBD

The laws are in a transitional period.   Basically, however, CBD is legal if sourced from “hemp” and illegal if sourced from “marijuana.”  For an in-depth look at this see our blog article: Is CBD legal in Minnesota?

Jury rights

That, and jury nullification (the absolute legal power of a jury to deliver a verdict of “not guilty” regardless of the facts and the law.)

More information
Here is another page discussing Marijuana Laws in Minnesota in more depth.

To discuss a criminal matter involving marijuana in Minnesota, you can contact Minneapolis Marijuana Lawyer Thomas C Gallagher, at 612 333-1500