Minnesota Adult-Use Cannabis Act Takes Effect

August 15, 2023

As of August 1, Minnesota’s Adult-Use Cannabis Act has taken effect. This Act allows residents to possess and grow cannabis for legal recreational purposes. In addition, it will enable relevant criminal records to begin the expungement process.

Under the Adult-Use Cannabis Act, Minnesota residents with low-level cannabis-related arrests or misdemeanor convictions may have their records sealed. It intends to prevent the public from viewing this information. Sealing these records would make it easier for affected individuals to find employment and housing. 

According to the Act, it would automatically expunge eligible records from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) criminal history database. However, the agency has warned that completing these expungements could take a while. The BCA also mentioned that 66,000 people could benefit from these automatic expungements.

Minnesota residents with cannabis-related felony convictions may also benefit from this Act through a different process. This process involves the Cannabis Expungement Board, which the state created through the Act. The Board decides whose records qualify for resentencing and would comprise five members: two appointed public members and three designees. State officials expect to finalize the Board in the fall of 2023. 

The Adult-Use Cannabis Act also protects individuals who use cannabis for recreational purposes when off duty. According to the law, employers cannot refuse to hire an applicant or discipline an employee due to using lawful consumable products in specific circumstances. These cases include use while off the employer’s premises and during non-working hours.

The law defines “lawful consumable products” as those legally used and enjoyed. This definition includes food, alcoholic or nonalcoholic beverages, tobacco, and cannabis products. These products include cannabis flower, as defined in section 342.01, and cannabinoid products, as defined in section 342.01, subdivision 12. As such, cannabis flower and cannabinoid products are lawful consumable products under Minnesota law. 

This acknowledgment disregards the legality under federal or other state statutes covering use, possession, impairment, sale, or transfer. However, it does not restrict employers’ authority to discipline or discharge employees for cannabis or cannabinoids under specific circumstances. Such cases include the use, possession, impairment, sale, or transfer during working hours, on the work premise, or while operating an employer’s vehicle, machinery, or equipment.

The law includes exceptions for workers in specific industries. Such workers include childcare, firefighters, and police officers. In addition, employers may terminate employees for arriving to work under the influence of marijuana. They may also request a drug test due to reasonable suspicion of someone working impaired.

Since this Act has taken effect, employers should review whether their employment policies comply with the Act. The best way to ensure compliance with this and other background screening laws is to partner with a trustworthy screening provider. The right provider stays updated with applicable employment laws and delivers accurate reports.

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