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Minnesota Drug Laws: How They Impact Marijuana Charges in Minneapolis

Marijuana laws and their enforcement have become a popular topic of discussion across the United States, with Minnesota being no exception. In this article, we delve into the details of Minnesota drug laws, providing a comprehensive understanding of the rules surrounding both decriminalized- and felony possession.

We explore the potential penalties for exceeding the decriminalized limit, and how charges can escalate due to aggravating factors, such as intent to distribute or possession within school zones. This examination provides insight into how the state addresses marijuana offenses and the complexities surrounding these laws.

Minnesota Drug Laws: Qualifications, Allowances, and Violations

Minnesota’s Medical Cannabis Program allows individuals with qualifying medical conditions to possess and use marijuana for therapeutic purposes. The law imposes specific regulations regarding the quantities and types of marijuana that are legal, as well as the qualifying medical conditions. Additionally, it prohibits certain actions that violate the statute.

Let’s explore each aspect in detail:

Qualifying Medical Conditions

Under the Minnesota Medical Cannabis Program, individuals with the following medical conditions are eligible to participate in the program:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Tourette Syndrome
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease
  • Terminal illness with a life expectancy of less than one year
  • Intractable pain, which cannot be effectively treated with conventional medications or therapies
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Patients must have a healthcare practitioner certify their condition and provide written certification for their participation in the program.

Allowable Types of Medical Marijuana

Once certified, patients in Minnesota’s Medical Cannabis Program can access medical marijuana from state-registered dispensaries known as “Cannabis Patient Centers.” The law allows the use of specific forms of medical marijuana while disqualifying smoking as legitimate medical use.

The allowable types of marijuana include the following:

  • Extracts: Non-smokable forms of marijuana, such as oils, tinctures, capsules, and concentrates.
  • Topicals: Products applied to the skin, such as lotions and creams, containing cannabis extracts.
  • Vaporization: Inhalation of cannabis extracts using a vaporizer, which heats the substance without combustion.
  • Edibles: Oral consumption of cannabis-infused products, such as lozenges, tablets, or liquids.

Violations of Minnesota’s Medical Marijuana Law

Violating the provisions of Minnesota’s medical marijuana law can result in legal consequences. Some actions that violate the statute include:

  1. Unauthorized possession: Possessing marijuana for medical purposes without being a registered patient or caregiver under the program.
  2. Unauthorized cultivation: Growing marijuana plants without being a registered patient or caregiver and without obtaining the necessary permissions from the Minnesota Department of Health.
  3. Diversion: Transferring or selling medical marijuana to individuals who are not registered patients or caregivers under the program.
  4. False representation: Providing false information or documentation to obtain medical marijuana or misrepresenting one’s medical condition to become a registered patient.
  5. Unauthorized use: Using medical marijuana for purposes other than the approved medical conditions or beyond the authorized quantities.
  6. Impaired driving: Operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana, which can lead to impaired driving charges.

It’s important to comply with the regulations outlined in the medical marijuana law to avoid legal repercussions.

For detailed information about Minnesota’s medical marijuana law, including program regulations, patient requirements, and application processes, you can refer to the official website of the Minnesota Department of Health.

Minnesota’s Medical Marijuana Program provides patients with qualifying conditions legal access to dispensary-purchased medical marijuana for therapeutic purposes. By adhering to the program’s guidelines and regulations, patients can receive the benefits of medical marijuana while ensuring compliance with state laws.

Decriminalized Marijuana Possession

Decriminalization in Minnesota means that while possession of marijuana in these quantities is technically against the law, it is treated more like a minor traffic offense rather than a criminal act. However, it’s crucial to note that decriminalization does not mean legalization; the possession, sale, and use of marijuana outside of medical purposes remains illegal in Minnesota.

Under the state’s laws, individuals found in possession of marijuana up to 42.5 grams are subject to a petty misdemeanor charge, which does not result in a criminal record. This is equivalent to a minor traffic violation. The penalty associated with this charge is typically a fine of up to $200.

For example, if a person is found in possession of 30 grams of marijuana by law enforcement in Minnesota, this would be considered a non-criminal offense under state law. The individual would likely receive a citation and be required to pay a fine.

Despite the 42.5 grams threshold, there are circumstances that can escalate the charge to a felony. For instance, if an individual is found with less than 42.5 grams of marijuana but is also in possession of paraphernalia that suggests intent to sell, they may face felony charges. Additionally, individuals found in possession of marijuana within a school zone or a park, or those who distribute marijuana to minors can also face escalated charges, regardless of the quantity in possession.

Minnesota’s Felony Marijuana Possession Law

In Minnesota, possession of more than 42.5 grams of marijuana is considered a felony. This crime is classified under Minnesota Statute Section 152.025, subdivisions 2 and 3. The severity of the charges and potential penalties depend largely on the quantity of marijuana found in possession.

Possession of between 42.5 grams and 10 kilograms carries a potential penalty of up to five years in prison and fines of up to $5,000. For amounts between 10 and 50 kilograms, the penalties increase to up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $250,000. Possession of between 50 and 100 kilograms could lead to up to 25 years in prison and fines up to $500,000, while possession of more than 100 kilograms has potential penalties of up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $1 million.

Aggravating Factors

Aggravating factors can significantly increase the severity of charges and potential penalties for marijuana possession in Minnesota. These include possession within a school zone or a park, selling or intending to sell the drug, or distributing marijuana to minors.

If a person is caught with less than 42.5 grams of marijuana, but there is evidence indicating intent to sell, such as scales, baggies, or large amounts of cash, they can still be charged with a felony. Possession with intent to sell can lead to a sentence of up to five years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.

If the offense involves the sale or distribution of marijuana to a minor, it’s classified as a more serious felony, with penalties of up to 15 years in prison and fines up to $100,000.

For marijuana offenses committed in a school zone, a public housing zone, or a park, the penalties can be doubled from those usually associated with the possession or sale of the specified quantity of marijuana.

For more information on penalties for felony marijuana possession in Minnesota, visit the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission’s website.

Felony Marijuana Possession Defenses in Minnesota

In Minnesota, as with any state, several defenses can be employed when an individual is charged with felony marijuana possession. These defenses largely hinge on the circumstances surrounding the case.

One common defense is to challenge the legality of the search and seizure. Under the Fourth Amendment, individuals have the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. If the law enforcement officer did not have a valid search warrant or a legitimate reason to conduct a search without a warrant, any evidence obtained during the search could be deemed inadmissible in court.

Another possible defense is to challenge the actual possession. For a person to be convicted of possession, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had control over the marijuana and knowledge of its presence. If the marijuana was found in a shared or public space, it may be challenging to prove that the defendant was the individual in possession of the drug.

Additionally, medical necessity is a potential defense. If the person can demonstrate they were using marijuana to alleviate a debilitating medical condition, they may be acquitted of the charges. It’s important to note, however, that Minnesota’s medical marijuana program only permits the use of certain forms of cannabis, and there are stringent requirements to qualify for the program.

In cases involving the distribution or sale of marijuana, a defendant could argue they were entrapped. Entrapment occurs when law enforcement officers induce a person to commit a crime they would not have otherwise committed. If successful, an entrapment defense could lead to an acquittal.

Finally, defendants could argue that the substance seized was not, in fact, marijuana. To do so, they may request a laboratory analysis of the alleged marijuana.

While these defenses can be effective, they are not guaranteed to succeed and require the skills and knowledge of an experienced defense attorney to be executed properly. To learn more about marijuana possession defenses, visit a trusted legal resource such as the University of Minnesota’s Law Library.

Navigating the intricacies of Minnesota’s marijuana laws can be a challenging endeavor. A solid understanding of these laws is essential, but when faced with charges, the assistance of a skilled legal professional is invaluable. If you or a loved one are dealing with a marijuana-related charge in Minnesota, your first step should be securing competent legal representation.

Talk to an Attorney About Minnesota Drug Laws

Gerald Miller, P.A., is an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you understand your rights, and potential defenses, and navigate the legal process effectively. Don’t face these charges alone; your freedom and future may be at stake. Reach out for professional guidance. Contact Gerald Miller, P.A. today to discuss your case and explore your options.

Related Content: What Happens When You Get Charged with Second-Degree Possession of a Controlled Substance in Minnesota?


About the author

Gerald Miller

Gerald Miller is a top-notch and experienced DWI/DUI lawyer at Gerald Miller P.A. in Minneapolis, MN. He has more than 35 years of experience in Criminal Defense practice. He has also been a mentor to numerous DUI/DWI defense attorneys.

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