Marijuana Law in Minnesota
In Minnesota, marijuana is subject to various Prohibition laws of the state and federal governments. Other than large criminal prosecutions, a relatively small proportion of criminal cases involving marijuana are prosecuted in federal court, this page will focus on Minnesota state laws. The information presented here is not intended to be exhaustive, but to provide a starting point for understanding Minnesota’s current Marijuana laws.
Minnesota’s Marijuana laws can be summarized 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., hash oil, wax) of 1/4 gram or more. “
Possession over that amount is a felony “crime.” A loophole in Minnesota’s 1970s decrim law left out marijuana derivatives such as hashish, hash oil, wax, etc., any amount of which is still a crime to possess.
Unless it is in a car: Possession of more than 1.4 grams of plant-form marijuana, unless in the trunk of the motor vehicle or similar area of a vehicle not equipped with a trunk, misdemeanor “crime.” This charge is usually called marijuana in a motor vehicle (small amount).
New in 2017: A new 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 only for a person “who has not been previously convicted of a violation of this chapter or a similar offense in another jurisdiction; and only for possession of “controlled substances” other than heroin.
Sale of any amount is a crime in Minnesota.
Minnesota now has an extremely limited medical marijuana statute. As of 2016, if you are not an enrolled, qualified patient accepted into and in compliance with Minnesota’s limited medical marijuana program, then you do not have a statutory medical marijuana defense to a criminal charge. As a result, we then must rely on the old common law defense of medical necessity – a lesser of two evils defense – as best we can. There are some Minnesota appellate court cases that so far have denied defendants a necessity defense even where clear evidence existed of medical use. This is why the legislature should consider a new law to enact a medical necessity defense by 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.
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.)