“THC Gummies Now Available” read the Marquee outside Ziggy’s for most of August. Initially, I thought the sign must be a joke. To my surprise, inside the store, next to an array of disposable nicotine vapes, sat a variety of THC Edibles with Minnesota-themed names, including ‘Paul Bunyan’s Pucker Watermelon’ and ‘Boundary Waters Bluebeary.’
In 2018, my home state of Michigan legalized adult-recreational Marijuana use, so I’m not unfamiliar with living around businesses producing and selling cannabis products. However, seeing THC in a gas station rather than a city-regulated dispensary seemed odd.
This past July, Minnesota passed a law legalizing the sale of THC-infused food and beverages. Minnesota’s decriminalization of cannabis sales differs from most other states that fully legalized adult marijuana use. THC-infused products sold in Minnesota must come from hemp, not marijuana plants. The difference between hemp and marijuana, both under the umberalla term cannabis, derives from the percent of the psychoactive compound THC in the plant. Marijana-derived THC is still illegal in Minnesota. It’s this point of confusion that may have led GOP lawmakers to voting for the bill— the law stipulates that products must come from cannabis plants with less than 0.3 percent Delta 9 THC. Lawmakers could have confused Delta 9 with the less THC-potent Delta 8, and accidentally opened the floodgates on psychoactive food and beverage products.
Though many see the Republicans as the laughing stock for their ignorance of the details within the bill, the real laughing stock, unfortunately, is consumers. Rather than writing a straightforward and justice-oriented marijuana legalization bill, the Minnesota DFL wrote a sloppy, ill-planned law that focused more on sneaking beneath the Repuplican’s noses and less on regulating the products entering the market.
In a dispensary, anyone from a college student on their 21st birthday to a grandma with hip problems can find a legion of educated budtenders to help them find their ideal THC product. Unfortunately, allowing almost any business eligible to sell THC products reduces consumer knowledge about the products they consume.
Understanding the effects of a cannabis product is crucial to having a safe experience, but Minnesota consumers are denied that key information through the lack of knowledgeable distributors. Additionally, there is less information about hemp-derived products than strains of marijuana, making it hard for consumers to do research for themselves.
I must admit that I find it funny that the Republicans accidentally legalized weed. What’s not funny is the burden this places on consumers. Anyone planning to use a regulated recreational drug should be able to access information easily about what they are putting in their body. The Minnesota DFL will need to make further legislative changes regarding cannabis. Minnesotans deserve better than a rushed bill. Minnesotans incarcerated for marijuana possession deserve justice. We cannot accept incomplete recreational cannabis legalization.
Caroline Geer is from Northville, Mich.
Her majors are sociology/anthropology and race and ethnic studies.