Minnesota’s Supreme Court is looking for a designee to sit on a marijuana expungements board that is being created under the state’s new legalization law.
In a public notice that was posted on Wednesday, the court described the composition and responsibilities of the Cannabis Expungement Board, which will facilitate record sealing for people with eligible marijuana convictions on their records.
After the cases are identified by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), the board will need to review them to determine if the offense would no longer be a crime (or be a lesser crime) and then decide “whether a person’s conviction should be vacated, charges dismissed, records expunged, or whether the person should be resentenced to a lesser offense,” the notice from the court’s chief justice said.
The Minnesota Supreme Court Seeks Applicants for the Cannabis Expungement Board https://t.co/ds05X6LVBl
— MN State Law Library (@StateLawLibrary) June 21, 2023
The board will be formally established on the same day that cannabis possession and home cultivation are legalized, on August 1.
Members will “hold meetings at least monthly and shall hold a meeting whenever the board takes formal action on a review of a conviction or stay of adjudication for an offense involving the sale or possession of marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinols,” the Supreme Court said.
In addition to the court’s designee, the board will also be comprised of representatives of the state attorney general’s office, the commissioner of corrections, a public defender and a public member appointed by the governor.
Board meetings will be made public, and members “are eligible for compensation.” People who are interested in being appointed must submit an application with a letter detailing their interest in the role by July 21.
Members will have their work cut out for them, as BCA said in a notice this month that it’s identified about 66,000 cases that can be automatically expunged, and another 230,000 records that will need to be individually evaluated.
BCA said it will need to make “technical and programmatic” changes to its Criminal History System, so it expects that offenses will continue to appear on public records until “closer to August 2024.”
While legalization goes into effect on August 1, it will take longer for the state’s first adult-use retailers to open. The Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), which is the main regulatory body overseeing the program, will be formally established next month and then begin creating the infrastructure for licensing.
However, the state has shown that it’s eager to expeditiously stand up the industry, and Gov. Tim Walz (D) said earlier this month that Indian tribes in the state may be able to start selling to adult consumers sooner than standard licensees.
Even before Walz signed the reform bill, the state launched a website that serves as a hub for information about the new law. Officials have also already started soliciting vendors to help build a licensing system for recreational marijuana businesses.
Democratic-Farmer-Labor legislators are pointing to the achievement on cannabis reform as a direct result of voters putting the party in the majority in both chambers after last year’s election.
The legislation that advanced through both chambers is an iteration of the 2021 House-passed bill from former Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (D), who now serves as campaign chairman of the advocacy coalition MN is Ready.
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As of August 1, adults 21 and older will be able to possess in public up to two ounces of cannabis and they will be allowed to cultivate up to eight plants at home, four of which can be mature. People can possess up to two pounds of marijuana in their residences.
Gifting up to two ounces of marijuana without remuneration between adults will be permitted.
It’s expected to take 12-18 months for licenses to be issued and regulated sales to start. As of March 1, 2025, existing medical cannabis businesses can receive new combination licenses that would allow them to participate in the adult-use market.
Certain marijuana misdemeanor records will also be automatically expunged, with implementation beginning in August. BCA will be responsible for identifying people who are eligible for relief to the courts, which will process the expungements. The Cannabis Expungement Board will also consider felony cannabis offenses for relief, including potential sentence reductions for those still incarcerated.
In addition to creating a system of licensed cannabis businesses, municipalities and counties can own and operate government dispensaries.
On-site consumption permits can be approved for events, and cannabis delivery services will be permitted under the bill.
Local governments will not be allowed to prohibit marijuana businesses from operating in their areas, though they can set “reasonable” regulations on the time of operation and location while also limiting the number of cannabis business licenses based on population size.
There will be a gross receipts tax on cannabis sales in the amount of 10 percent, which will be applied in addition to the state’s standard 6.875 percent sales tax.
Eighty percent of revenue will go into the state’s general fund—with some monies earmarked for grants to help cannabis businesses, fund substance misuse treatment efforts and other programs—and 20 percent will go to local governments.
OCM will be established in July, and it will be responsible for regulating the market and issuing cannabis business licenses. There will be a designated Division of Social Equity.
The legislation will promote social equity, in part by ensuring diverse licensing by scoring equity applicants higher. People living in low-income neighborhoods and military veterans who lost honorable status due to a cannabis-related offense will be considered social equity applicants eligible for priority licensing. People convicted of cannabis offenses, or who have an immediate family member with such a conviction, will also qualify.
A poll released last month found that 64 percent of Minnesota registered voters support creating a regulated marijuana market, including 81 percent of Democrats and a 49 percent plurality of Republicans.
Two polls released in September found that the majority of Minnesota residents support adult-use marijuana legalization—and one survey showed that even more Minnesotans approve of the state’s move to legalize THC-infused edibles that was enacted last year.
A survey conducted by officials with the House at the annual State Fair that was released in September also found majority support for legalization. That legislature-run poll found that 61 percent of Minnesotans back legalizing cannabis for adult use.