Minnesota will be legalizing recreational marijuana on August 1. That same day, the Red Lake Nation Indian tribe will be opening the first Minnesota recreational marijuana dispensary. Read on to learn more about the new development.

Tribal Governments are Sovereign Allowing the First Minnesota Recreational Marijuana Dispensary

Although Minnesota legalized recreational weed, sales will not be allowed in the state until 2025. However, tribal governments are sovereign and can act outside of that law. Therefore, the Red Lake Nation tribe is legally permitted to open the first Minnesota recreational marijuana dispensary.

The state government is hoping to create compacts with Indian tribes that provide guidelines for selling, but they realize the tribes can operate as they please without entering an agreement.

Bill sponsors hope to negotiate with the tribe to settle jurisdiction issues and ensure public safety is considered. The governor has the power to enter into agreements with tribes that would like to move forward. They would benefit from the agreements’ civil and criminal protections.

Red Lake Sees First Minnesota Recreational Marijuana Dispensary as a Possible Solution for Opioid Addiction

Red Lake Nation has been supporting recreational marijuana for years. They legalized it by referendum way ahead of the Minnesota government. The driving motivation behind opening the first Minnesota recreational marijuana dispensary is to reduce opioid use among the tribe.

The rate of opioid-related deaths among Native Americans has been historically high. The current opioid-related overdose death rate is 13.7 deaths per 100,000 Native Americans exceeding the national rate of 13.1 per year. Native Americans are often targeted by drug cartels because of the complex nature of criminal jurisdiction on reservations and the understaffing of Tribal government police forces.

Native Americans are also prone to drug use as many live in poverty and are victims of racial disparities.

Research shows that cannabis can be beneficial in reducing opioid use. It eases symptoms of pain making it a suitable opioid alternative. It has also been shown to reduce cravings.

Tribal Secretary Sam Strong points out that opioids are also problematic because they are sometimes found in marijuana products. Fentanyl has been an issue.

“Fentanyl has been taking a deadly toll in our community. We want to make sure that we’re protecting those that choose to participate,” he explains.

He also says that the first Minnesota recreational marijuana dispensary creates “an opportunity for the tribe to provide tested product to individuals who want to purchase it”.

About the First Minnesota Recreational Marijuana Dispensary

The first Minnesota recreational marijuana dispensary is called Native Care. It has been providing medical marijuana to tribe members and non-members since April. It will expand to sell recreational weed starting in August when it becomes legal in the state.

The dispensary is in Red Lake, Minnesota. “It is accessible for individuals that choose to come to the reservation,” Strong explains. He went on to say that people who are not from Red Lake will be protected by the city’s tribal laws while on their land, but state laws will go into effect when they leave the reservation.

You can check out the Native Care website and order products online, or you can visit the first Minnesota recreational marijuana dispensary in person. Strong says he hopes visitors are “as respectful as possible to our people and our laws and try to appreciate who we are as people.”

Why are Minnesota Recreational Weed Sales Prohibited Until 2025?

Recreational weed will become legal in Minnesota on August 1. But the law allows cities to pass interim ordinances that put a hold on recreational sales until Jan. 1, 2025. Five cities have taken this step including Brooklyn Center, Ramsay, Mankato, East Grand Forks, and West St. Paul.

Kyle Harnett, assistant research manager at the League of Minnesota Cities, explains that the delay will give cities a chance to review the bill.

“The cannabis bill was 300-plus pages long. Most cities haven’t gone through it with a fine-tooth comb. That’s what we’re trying to do- push out, ‘This is what it means for cities, here are the next steps you should be taking, here’s what you should be thinking about’.”

The interim ordinance does not apply to hemp-derived THC edibles which have been sold in retail stores since the summer of 2022 when laws went into effect legalizing them in low doses. Several cities and counties have passed separate moratoriums regarding those products pending more guidance and possible changes from state lawmakers.

“What the mortarium does- it’s not a unique feature to cannabis businesses. It’s a planning tool cities have for any sort of business that comes in. It allows cities to hit a pause button on a certain issue: “This isn’t something we haven’t thought about. We’re not gonna allow these certain types of businesses within our community for right now to give us time to study the issue, look at what kind of regulations are gonna be put in place,” Hartnett went on to explain.

More About the Minnesota Cannabis Law

The Minnesota cannabis law legalizes the possession and use of marijuana for adults in the state 21 and over. Adults will be permitted to possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis flower and up to 8 grams of cannabis concentrates for a total of 800mg of THC. They can also possess up to 2 pounds of cannabis in their homes.

The law also creates a state agency called the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) which will oversee the recreational market and the existing medical market. It will be responsible for licensing cannabis and hemp businesses.

It also expunges all misdemeanor cannabis offenses and creates a Cannabis Expungement Board that reviews felony offenses that may be eligible for expungement on a case-by-case basis. It puts new rules and requirements in place for hemp-based THC drinks and edibles which have become extremely popular in recent years.

While retail sales may not begin until early 2025, Red Lake Nation will be operating the first Minnesota recreational marijuana dispensary starting on August 1.