Cannabis, Hemp & Marijuana – The Legal Differences Of This Plant



Where Minnesota law is concerned, marijuana indicates every part of the cannabis plant, including any product derived from the plant such as oil, seeds and fibers. Thus, cannabis is marijuana and hemp is a derived product of the plant. Basically, cannabis, hemp and marijuana are the same plant. Now this can become confusing if Minnesota’s statutes include laws making it illegal to possess marijuana and marijuana derived products yet it is legal to cultivate the hemp species of cannabis and purchase and use medical marijuana. What exactly is the difference? The legal differences are form and usage.

In 2015 Minnesota’s “Industrial Hemp Development Act” passed, authorizing the Commission of Agriculture to begin a pilot program allowing institutions of higher learning to cultivate industrial crops of hemp for research purposes. Minnesota is interested in the contributions of hemp in industries such as textiles, paper products, plastics, animal feed, and other products. Legalized cultivation of hemp in Minnesota does not mean it is now legal for individuals to create a personal indoor hemp farm or plant a backyard crop.

Effective August 1 of this year, Minnesota’s “Medical Marijuana Law” takes effect permitting the use of medical marijuana for medical conditions such as: cancer, Crohn’s disease, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, seizures, Tourette’s syndrome, terminal illness and a variety of other specific medical conditions. A thirty day supply of medical marijuana is allowed in a non-smokable form. Registration is required with the Minnesota Department of Health and legal medical marijuana is available through state-licensed dispensaries only. For more information and to see if you have a qualifying medical condition, consult the Minnesota Department of Health.

If you are found in possession of any form of marijuana or any product derived from marijuana, you can face potential prosecution of a crime, depending on the quantity in your possession and the discretionary powers of law enforcement and the judicial system.  Many lawmakers are attempting to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous substance, some desire to decriminalize possession and use of marijuana altogether. Despite these facts, at the present time in Minnesota possession of marijuana is possession of a controlled substance. And there are many details and factors that affect the seriousness of criminal charges:

Small Amount – What constitutes a misdemeanor level “small amount”? Minnesota statute 152.01 defines a small amount of marijuana to be 42.5 grams or less.

Marijuana in a Motor Vehicle – If more than 1.4 grams of marijuana are found in the cab of any motor vehicle it is treated under the same premise of Minnesota’s “open container” law.

Drug Paraphernalia – Possession is considered a misdemeanor offence.

Up to 10 kilos – This amount has the potential to carry with it a conviction of possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree. Maximum penalty for conviction is a maximum fine of $10,000. Maximum jail time is five years. Punishment could include any combination of fines and jail time. A subsequent conviction of the same crime doubles the punishment guidelines.

10-50 kilos – Conviction of possession of a controlled substance in the third degree carries a potential fine of up to $250,000 along with a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. Punishment could include a combination of the two. A subsequent conviction of the same crime carries the same maximum fine but increases the potential jail time to 30 years.

Penalties are even more harsh for possession of even larger amounts of marijuana, its sale and distribution, and other factors such as selling to minors or within school zones. If you have been charged with any criminal violation related to marijuana, you need effective and aggressive representation. Please contact us and let us help you defend your rights. Our experienced criminal defense teams can help you navigate the confusion of a court case and inform you of your options and advise you on the best solutions.

Disclaimer: The content of this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact Jennifer Speas to discuss the specifics of your case.