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Office of Cannabis Management Launches Effort to Address Illegal Sales of Raw Cannabis Flower

Saint Paul, MN –The Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) announced that it will begin enforcement to prevent the illegal sales of raw cannabis flower across Minnesota. The OCM has entered into an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to add inspection capacity for illegal sales of raw cannabis flower.

While Minnesota has legalized the sale of hemp-derived cannabinoid consumer products, selling raw cannabis flower is currently illegal because OCM has not yet issued any cannabis business licenses. OCM has received complaints of retailers selling cannabis flower under the label of hemp flower. Hemp is legal only within limits specified by state and federal law.

“Our primary goal at the Office of Cannabis Management is to ensure a safe, legal cannabis industry that protects public health and provides accurate, reliable information to adult consumers,” said Charlene Briner, OCM interim director. “This interagency agreement gives us capacity to conduct inspections during this transitional implementation period, and more fully integrates the work of the MDH inspectors who will eventually transition their work to OCM.”

MDH inspectors who have been conducting inspections of retailers selling legal hemp-derived cannabinoid products will begin simultaneous examination of raw flower products being offered for sale to ensure those products are hemp and not cannabis.

The examination of raw flower products will include reviewing the product’s certificate of analysis for test results on total THC. Raw hemp flower must contain 0.3% or less of Delta-9 on a dry weight basis. Products exceeding 0.3% Delta-9 dry weight are considered marijuana and are illegal to sell.

In addition to the additional inspection capacity, OCM will expand product testing capacity by using a field mobile testing unit and through a contracted testing lab.

Retailers found in violation of the law could be faced with embargo of product and fines of up to $1 million for violating state law. Additionally, violations may impact a person’s ability to receive a license for a cannabis business. OCM encourages retailers to review products that they are currently selling and ensure that the products fall within legal limits.

OCM has sent a letter to all retailers registered with MDH to alert them that inspections of raw flower will begin immediately.

In addition to the expanded inspection and testing capacity, OCM is asking the legislature to accelerate the timeline for the transition of the hemp-derived cannabinoid enforcement from MDH to OCM as early as July 1, 2024, rather than March 2025. The early transition is something OCM has identified as both a capacity building strategy and a way to better align and integrate the regulatory work that will all eventually fall under the authority of OCM.

“While this is a temporary issue that will no longer exist once businesses are licensed to sell cannabis flower, OCM’s commitment to ensuring an industry that abides by all legal requirements is steadfast and ongoing,” said Briner. “We are confident that by providing clear expectations and guidance to businesses, the majority of operators will choose to follow the law.”

 

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