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Promoting public health in cannabis legalization

The state of Minnesota legalized edible cannabinoid products in July 2022 and began working on legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis soon after. With the recent legalization of these products, a whole new legal cannabis industry is emerging in Minnesota.

Minnesotans ages 21 and older may legally possess, use, and grow cannabis as of August 1, 2023. Adult-use cannabis is already available at dispensaries on certain American Indian reservations in Minnesota, and it is expected to become available at retail establishments throughout the state early in 2025.

 cannabis leaf

Hennepin County Public Health's role in cannabis legalization

Hennepin County Public Health's role in cannabis legalization is to ensure that safeguards are in place to minimize health risks. This is particularly important for groups of people who are likely to be more vulnerable to risks. These groups include young people, people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and people at risk for substance use disorder or mental health conditions.

Prohibiting cannabis has disproportionately affected BIPOC communities, in particular Black/African American and Latinx communities, through unequal cannabis enforcement and cannabis-related arrests. This has contributed to ongoing social and health inequities in these populations. Hennepin County Public Health is prioritizing an equitable approach as rules are established to govern adult-use cannabis in Minnesota.

What's next

The state of Minnesota is working to establish the Office of Cannabis Management, which will oversee Minnesota's cannabis industry beginning in 2025. Until then, medical cannabis and the previously legalized lower-potency hemp-derived cannabinoid products will be regulated by the Minnesota Department of Health.

  • As the state's Office of Cannabis Management works to create rules to govern adult-use cannabis, Hennepin County Public Health will continue to work on prevention policies, educational materials, and other activities to protect public health. This includes efforts that reduce youth access and exposure to cannabis and hemp-derived products. The county is working to make sure marketing does not target people under the age of 21, who cannot use cannabis products under the new law.
  • The county is also developing the infrastructure needed to help regulate legalized cannabis and hemp-derived products. Under the state law, cities and counties will register retailers that are licensed by the state. Cities and counties will also monitor retailers' compliance with state rules. Cities can choose to register and monitor retailers themselves or have Hennepin County do so on their behalf. Hennepin County Public Health is currently meeting with cities in Hennepin County to understand their needs related to registration and monitoring.
  • Hennepin County Public Health is developing education and prevention materials, prioritizing material aimed at young people and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. The county is also developing materials about the possible health risks of cannabis use for all residents.

Check out our fact sheets and other resources below to learn more or connect with us by emailing