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Drug Crimes in Minnesota: The Status of Cannabis


Minneapolis Drug Crimes Lawyer Judith Samson

While states like Colorado have already made recreational use of marijuana legal for their residents, other states are still evolving in their regulation of cannabis.

Minnesota’s has only made cannabis legal for medical use. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, only patients who are legal residents and have a qualifying condition are eligible to receive medical cannabis:

Qualifying Conditions:

  • Cancer associated with severe/chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or cachexia or severe wasting
  • Glaucoma
  • Tourette Syndrome
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Seizures, including those characteristic of Epilepsy
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of Multiple Sclerosis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease
  • Terminal illness, with a probable life expectancy of less than one year*
  • Intractable pain
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Autism
  • Obstructive sleep apnea

Drug Charges Involving Cannabis

Now that medical cannabis is legal for some users with qualifying conditions, a whole new industry has involved in the state.

This has forced law enforcement officers to use new approaches when evaluating potential criminals for possession of marijuana. They must determine the type of cannabis that the defendant has in his or her possession and whether the use is legal or illegal.

Avoid These Common Charges

There are two common charges that could impact Minnesota residents while going about their daily lives. The first is having marijuana inside of their motor vehicle, and the second is possessing a small amount of marijuana (which occurs away from a motor vehicle).

While these charges are only misdemeanors, they can establish a criminal history for a first-time offender if a conviction is obtained. You want to hire an attorney to avoid prosecution for these minor charges.

Possession of marijuana in a motor vehicle

A person is guilty of a misdemeanor if the person is the owner of a private motor vehicle, or is the driver of the motor vehicle if the owner is not present, and possesses on the person, or knowingly keeps or allows to be kept within the area of the vehicle normally occupied by the driver or passengers, more than 1.4 grams of marijuana.

This area of the vehicle does not include the trunk of the motor vehicle if the vehicle is equipped with a trunk, or another area of the vehicle not normally occupied by the driver or passengers if the vehicle is not equipped with a trunk.

A utility or glove compartment is deemed to be within the area occupied by the driver and passengers.

Possession or sale of small amounts of marijuana

A person who unlawfully sells a small amount of marijuana for no remuneration, or who unlawfully possesses a small amount of marijuana is guilty of a petty misdemeanor and shall be required to participate in a drug education program unless the court enters a written finding that a drug education program is inappropriate.

The program must be approved by an area mental health board with a curriculum approved by the state alcohol and drug abuse authority.

Charges Can Impact Your Future

Before you transport marijuana and you do not have a license to use medical cannabis for a qualifying condition, consider leaving it at home. You must be caught in possession of a small amount of marijuana in excess of 1.4 grams to be charged with one of these misdemeanors.

Alternatively, if you use marijuana in small amounts in a private residence, the odds you will be charged with possession of a small amount of this drug are minimal. The only way you would be in violation of the law is if law enforcement came to your home for other reasons and then they found more than a small amount of cannabis.

Alternatively, residents who set up operations to grow medical cannabis must be licensed and conform to the rules of the state.

For more information on hiring an attorney for drug charges in Minnesota involving cannabis or other controlled substances, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

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