Planning on smoking Cannabis at the Minnesota State Fair? Think again, organizers say

Planning on smoking Cannabis at the Minnesota State Fair? Think again, organizers say

MINNEAPOLIS - Weeks before the "Great Minnesota Get-Together," recreational cannabis use for adults 21 and older will be legal starting Aug 1.

But visitors to the Minnesota State Fair won't be able to smoke marijuana or purchase hemp-derived THC-infused beverages or edibles while they're there, fair organizers say. 

"The Minnesota laws regarding the sale and consumption of cannabis products are still relatively new, and the Minnesota State Fair has not determined if it will change its operation and policies as a result of the recently passed cannabis legislation," according to a statement sent to WCCO. "We will take the time to analyze and monitor, learning from others around the state, as well as from fairs and events around the country."

For now, THC and CBD sales are prohibited at the fair this summer, fair staff continued. And smoking weed is illegal in public places under the Minnesota Clean Air Act, according to the statute language.

The new law authorizes marijuana use at home, other private residences with the owners' permission and places licensed for on-site cannabis consumption. The latter won't be possible until the new state Office of Cannabis Management is up and running to set up the regulatory framework, which authors of the legislation have said could take many months. 

The 300-page bill signed into law by Gov. Tim Walz last month includes 10 different business licenses in the adult-use marijuana market, plus more for medical cannabis and hemp-derived edibles. 

Among them is a "cannabis event organizer" license, which allows for the temporary sale and consumption of marijuana and marijuana products at authorized events. 

They can be up to four days long, according to the statute, as long as there are age restrictions and proper security. The state office would issue those licenses, but there may be additional permitting at the local level, too. 

"The cannabis event space, I think, is going to be massive in Minnesota, Now we are an island surrounded by states where cannabis is illegal and the tourism is going to be massive in Minnesota," said Josh Wilken-Simon, owner of Legacy Glassworks and host of the "THC Legacy Cup" showcasing hemp-derived products legalized last summer. "With cannabis events specifically – what a great way to get people from the bordering states to come in and experience our new marketplace."

Wilken-Simon said 6,000 people attended the Legacy Cup last fall and he expects it to grow. He plans on applying for a cannabis event organizer license and wants to eventually expand the event to include marijuana. 

Hemp and marijuana are both in the cannabis family, but hemp has less THC -- the psychoactive ingredient that produces a high–on a dry-weight basis. Starting Aug. 1, Minnesota adults can have up to two pounds of marijuana at home and two ounces on their person while traveling in public. 

Leili Fatehi, who was among the stakeholders working on the bill and runs cannabis consulting firm Blunt Strategies, said it is unlikely that there will be marijuana sales at large public events like the Minnesota State Fair because it welcomes people of all ages. 

Only adults 21 and older can use marijuana and participate in future cannabis events. In order to host one, a person would apply for a license with details and pay a fee.

"We wanted to have a category of licensure that allows for those events to be held in a manner that is consistent with public safety and public health," Fatehi said. 

In New York, another legal cannabis state, visitors to its state are allowed to smoke weed and tobacco products in six designated areas, a local news report said. 

While the Minnesota State Fair organizers will continue to consider its policies, there may be vendors with informational materials about the new cannabis industry, they said. 

"We will field booth inquiries from organizations that provide educational information and will have more details later this summer,"  according to the fair statement to WCCO.

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Region: Minnesota

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