Minnesota’s first recreational cannabis dispensary, operated by the Red Lake Nation, opened its doors on Tuesday, but the overwhelming demand led to a suspension of service. While possession and cultivation of cannabis are legal for adults, other state-licensed retailers will not begin operating until 2024. The Red Lake Nation is the only tribe currently legally selling cannabis in Minnesota.
Minnesota saw its first and currently only recreational cannabis dispensary open on Tuesday. The demand was incredibly high, leading the dispensary to refuse in-store customer service and temporarily halt online orders to cope with the overwhelming demand.
The Red Lake Nation tribe, who are behind the new cannabis store in Minnesota, acted swiftly to take advantage of a unique provision in the state’s legalization law, which came into effect on Tuesday. They launched their physical store in Red Lake well ahead of the expected date for state regulators to start licensing traditional retailers.
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Minnesota Store in the Middle of Nowhere
Despite the distance from any major cities in Minnesota (Red Lake is a 3-4 hour drive from any major city in Minnesota), some people traveled for hours and lined up outside the NativeCare store, even in the rain, to be among the first to enter Minnesota’s legal cannabis market.
By the end of the day, the dispensary had served over 300 customers and had to stop taking online orders around 3 pm to ensure they could serve everyone patiently waiting.
On Wednesday, the Minnesota store announced the suspension of online orders due to the “overwhelming” volume of purchases made, and they needed time to fulfill orders from the past 48 hours.
The Red Lake Nation Tribe Leads the Way in Minnesota
Currently, the Red Lake Nation is the only tribe legally selling cannabis in Minnesota. However, the White Earth Nation is expected to follow soon, as their governing council voted last week to authorize the sale of cannabis.
Although possession and cultivation of cannabis for adults aged 21 and above became legal on Tuesday in Minnesota, state-licensed retailers do not expect to start operating until 2024.
Former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura expressed his interest in joining the cannabis industry and becoming “America’s first politician” with his own cannabis brand.
Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) to Regulate Cannabis in Minnesota
The law also established the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), which became operational last month. This agency will be the primary regulatory body overseeing the cannabis market in Minnesota, and the governor is actively seeking an executive director for it.
Furthermore, the Cannabis Possession Convictions Commission was created to facilitate the removal of cannabis possession convictions from the records of eligible individuals. The review of eligible cases in Minnesota began on Tuesday.
Cannabis Restrictions that Remain
While adults can legally possess and use cannabis, smoking or vaporizing cannabis in an apartment building in Minnesota, even on a balcony or patio, remains illegal. Violating this law could result in a fine of $250.
There has been some confusion about the policy regarding cannabis possession by minors. Although the bill’s sponsors intended to remove criminal penalties for cannabis in Minnesota, it has recently come to light that those under the age of 21 caught with cannabis could face a minor offense charge.
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