Minnesota Hemp Business Licensing and Endorsements Required From Seed to Sale Under the Adult-Use Cannabis Law

By Andrea Golan

Nov 16, 2023

Minnesota will begin issuing licenses under the new Adult-Use Cannabis Law in March of 2025. If you are operating or intend to operate in the hemp space and are looking to enter the Minnesota cannabis industry at that time, it’s crucial to understand how hemp businesses will be regulated and how the cannabis and hemp laws intersect.

In this first post in a series of Vicente Insights discussing hemp regulation under the new Minnesota cannabis law, we will dive into the licenses and endorsements required to cultivate, process, manufacture, transport, and sell hemp ingredients and hemp products.

In Q1 of 2025, the Minnesota Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) is expected to begin issuing licenses authorizing the production, manufacture, distribution, and sale of cannabis. Under the OCM umbrella, licenses will be required for the manufacture and retail sale of “lower-potency hemp edibles.” Hemp cultivation and processing is and will continue to be regulated by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) under the Minnesota Hemp Program.

The cannabis law provides for two hemp-specific license types:

  1. Lower-potency hemp edible manufacturer
  2. Lower-potency hemp edible retailer

A lower-potency hemp edible is defined in the cannabis law as a product intended to be eaten or consumed as a beverage that contains hemp concentrate or an artificially derived delta-9 THC cannabinoid in combination with a food ingredient. (See the cannabis law for the official definition of “artificially derived cannabinoid.”)

Required Endorsements for Minnesota Hemp Businesses

Most cannabis and hemp license types will need additional endorsements to perform certain activities. Endorsements are add-ons to existing licenses. For example, a licensed cannabis cultivator needs a separate cultivation endorsement. Endorsements will follow the same term and renewal period as the associated cannabis/hemp license.

License and Endorsements Required for Manufacturing Hemp Edibles in Minnesota

A lower-potency hemp edible manufacturer license and an edible cannabinoid product handler endorsement are required to produce hemp edibles.

If the hemp edible manufacturer is creating hemp concentrate or artificially derived cannabinoids (“ADCs”), an endorsement (yet to be named) will be required.

The permissible hemp edible manufacturer activities are outlined in (Sec. 45 [342.45]).

Transportation of Hemp and Hemp Products in Minnesota

Unlike cannabis, a transporter license is not required to transport hemp or hemp products; however, hemp transporters are subject to other requirements. Vehicles used for transport must meet certain requirements, are subject to inspection at any time, and all pick-ups and deliveries must be documented.

Minnesota hemp edible manufacturers may transport hemp concentrate, ADCs, and lower-potency hemp edibles. Retailers may transport hemp edibles (342.45, Subd. 5). No additional license or endorsement is required.

Minnesota Licensed Cannabis Wholesalers

A cannabis wholesaler license with a hemp-derived product importer endorsement allows the license holder to:

  • Purchase hemp plant parts and propagules from hemp cultivators and hemp concentrate from hemp processors

  • Sell, in addition to cannabis products, hemp edibles and hemp-derived consumer products

  • Import hemp edibles and hemp-derived consumer products manufactured outside Minnesota [342.33]

Hemp Product Retail Sales and On-Site Consumption in Minnesota

Licensed cannabis retailers and licensed lower potency hemp edible retailers may sell hemp edibles, hemp-derived topical products, and hemp-derived consumer products.

A cannabis microbusiness and a hemp edible retailer with an on-site consumption endorsement may engage in on-site consumption of hemp edibles.

Minnesota Cannabis and Hemp License Limitations

Baked into the Minnesota adult-use cannabis law are limitations on the number and type of licenses one can hold. Hemp edible manufacturers and retailers have more flexibility to hold multiple license types, while cannabis businesses face more restrictions on holding multiple licenses.

  • With some exceptions, most cannabis license holders can hold only one license type and may not hold any other cannabis or hemp license

  • A hemp business may hold both a Hemp Edible Manufacturer and a Hemp Edible Retailer license

  • Licensed Hemp Edible Manufacturers and Hemp Edible Retailers may hold a hemp cultivation license under the MDA Hemp Program

  • A hemp cultivator license under the MDA Hemp Program may also hold a cannabis cultivation license

  • Any hemp business type may hold a cannabis transporter license, but no other cannabis license type

Participation in Minnesota’s Cannabis Rulemaking Process

The next step for Minnesota’s OCM is to propose rules to implement the new cannabis law. These rules will fill in the details that were not put directly into the cannabis law, such as the procedures to apply for licensing, laboratory testing protocols, how to comply with the cannabis tracking system, and so forth. Through the rulemaking process, OCM will solicit input from the public.

The importance of public participation cannot be overstated. Your comments, suggestions, and feedback will play an important role in shaping regulations. To that end, OCM is inviting interested parties to complete a survey to help it identify priority areas for rulemaking. The survey will close on November 30, 2023.

Contact us if you would like to discuss Minnesota’s Cannabis Law or would like assistance in submitting an impactful public comment.

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