Red Lake Nation Leads the Way: The Rise of Recreational Cannabis in Minnesota
The state is taking the time to expunge cannabis-related offenses and is currently hard at work on reinventing the wheel in terms of its recreational cannabis program and what everything will look like. Right now, adults 21 and older can possess and travel within Minnesota’s borders with up to 2oz of weed, 8g of concentrates, and edibles with up to 800mg of THC.
Adults can grow up to 8 plants with no more than four flowering at a time and can store up to 2lbs of flower at home. Smoking the stuff is similar to other states in that you’re more than welcome to do it at home, but not so much in public places. While state law doesn’t prohibit smoking weed on the sidewalk, local ordinances might.
There are talks about what the industry itself might look like, though. Rumors are circulating that Minnesota might one day host special events that allow cannabis use as long as the organizers have permits. But we’re still a little far from that. There are a lot of things to account for first.
Minnesota is following suit with states like New York and prioritizing social equity considerations in awarding licenses, giving opportunities to individuals and communities disproportionately affected by the illegal status of marijuana. These considerations extend to various license categories, with varying application fees, making the industry accessible to a diverse range of participants. Local governments will also have the power to limit the number of retailers, ensuring responsible and controlled cannabis distribution.
All that’s to say is there’s still a lot to work out, and it could take quite a bit of time for state-run dispensaries to open. While the state is expected to issue adult-use licenses in late 2024, with stores opening in early 2025, tribes like Red Lake Nation have already seized the opportunity to serve their communities.
Tribal Sovereignty in Minnesota's Cannabis Market
Native American tribes can operate on a different level than the state. The autonomy of tribal nations in Minnesota has allowed them to operate independently of state regulators, much like tribal initiatives in states like Arizona, Nevada, and New York. As a result, tribal nations often become pioneers in launching adult-use sales, as they are not bound by the same regulations as state-licensed retailers.
In Minnesota, this advantage grants tribal nations at least a one-year head start in the cannabis market over state-licensed recreational cannabis retailers. The rest of the state probably won’t have recreational dispensaries until 2025, although you can already buy recreational cannabis legally at the dispensaries on Native lands.
Tribes like the Red Lake Nation have already seized the opportunity to serve their communities. It made waves by opening the first adult-use marijuana store in Minnesota and accounted for the very first recreational cannabis sale in the state.
Recreational Cannabis via Native Tribes in Minnesota
Situated in remote northwestern Minnesota, The Red Lake tribe made history by opening its NativeCare store on August 1st, coinciding with the day the state’s new marijuana law was enacted. Even though the location is about 250 miles north of the Twin Cities, NativeCare has been attracting around 300 customers daily, according to Minnesota Public Radio.
Other companies, like Waabigwan Dispensary in Mahnomen, are following suit and reporting similar numbers, especially since only a handful of recreational stores are currently open to serve a huge market of cannabis users in the state.
The Red Lake Nation has further ambitious plans to expand its footprint in the cannabis market. One idea they’re playing around with is the “weed truck” concept, which is much like a food truck that travels around— except this one will sell weed. This mobile dispensary will exclusively sell medical and recreational marijuana, but only on tribal lands per the law. The concept offers convenience to customers and extends their reach within the community.
Red Lake Nation’s NativeCare store and its weed truck venture symbolize a new era for cannabis in Minnesota. As the state progresses towards a fully regulated cannabis industry, tribal nations are currently leading the way, capitalizing on their sovereignty and embracing the opportunities presented while the legislature sorts itself out.
While the paperwork may take some time, Minnesota’s commitment to social equity and the gradual normalization of cannabis consumption are promising signs for a future where legal cannabis serves both the economy and the community.
As Minnesotans get ready to enjoy a taste of freedom, they can count on resources like MN Dispensaries. MN Dispensaries is a part of the bigger Nationwide Dispensaries network, which helps people across the country find dispensaries nearby. More importantly, the dispensary finder showcases menu information and about sections for each dispensary. Currently, there are a handful of recreational dispensaries on the map that may be hard to find through other avenues. Use it to quickly find dispensaries across the state as more and more spring up in the coming years.