The U.S. Forest Service is reminding people that Minnesota’s new marijuana legalization law enacted this week does not mean people can possess or use cannabis at national forests in the state—so it recommends buying a map to know where you can and can’t indulge.
On Tuesday—the same day that adult-use marijuana legalization took effect in Minnesota—the Forest Service issued an alert, notifying the public that possessing any amount of cannabis “is still prohibited on all National Forest lands and at all National Forest campgrounds and facilities.”
“Forest officials ask visitors to be mindful of National Forest System boundaries and to become familiar with relevant federal and state regulations prior to visiting the Chippewa and/or Superior National Forests,” it says.
The agency, which also sent out a notice last month to remind federal workers that they remain barred from using marijuana even in legal states, said that it’s received questions from visitors about the “legality of marijuana use on public lands” since the Minnesota legislature moved to end prohibition at the state level.
“While recreational cannabis use may be legal in the State of Minnesota, effective August 1, 2023, Chippewa and Superior National Forest officials are reminding visitors that it is illegal on National Forest System lands,” it said.
An FAQ section explains how national forests are federally regulated and, therefore, federal law applies and supersedes the state’s newly implemented policy.
For people curious about where exactly the national forest boundary is to inform their travel, the Forest Service says that “maps are available at our all of our District Ranger stations and to purchase on-line.”
The agency is urging people to be “mindful” and “become familiar with relevant federal and state regulations prior to visiting the Chippewa and Superior National Forests.”
Minnesota’s legalization law has also recently caught the attention of another federal agency: the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Just hours after Gov. Tim Walz (D) signed the reform bill into law in May, ATF issued a notice reminding people who use cannabis remain federally banned from purchasing and possessing guns, regardless of the state law.
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Marijuana possession and cultivation became legal for adults 21 and older in Minnesota on Tuesday—and a native tribe also launched the first sales in the state while regulators work to set up a licensing infrastructure for traditional retailers.
The law also formally created the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), which launched last month. It will be the primary regulatory body that will oversee the market and for which the governor is actively seeking an executive director.
Another body that has been instituted is the Cannabis Expungement Board, which will facilitate record sealing for people with eligible marijuana convictions on their records. The review process for eligible cases will commence on Tuesday.
The state has shown that it’s eager to expeditiously stand up the industry. Even before Walz signed the reform bill, the state launched a website that serves as a hub for information about the new law. Officials have also already started soliciting vendors to help build a licensing system for recreational marijuana businesses.
A separate Minnesota law also took effect on Tuesday that legalizes drug paraphernalia possession, syringe services, controlled substances residue and testing.
Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.