Minnesota May Open Some Of The First Government-Run Cannabis Dispensaries In The U.S.

The idea has been floated and rejected in various states

Minnesota could become the first state in nine years to open cannabis dispensaries that are run by cities and counties.

That’s because of one line in the state’s new cannabis laws that allow for cities and counties to “establish, own and operate a municipal cannabis store.” The law appears to be the first of its kind in the country and has prompted cities to research whether they want to open their own dispensaries.

But there’s only one city that’s been successful with running a cannabis store. The City of North Bonneville in Washington was the first city in the country to open a municipal cannabis dispensary back in 2015 but was no longer operating it as of 2021.

Municipal cannabis stores are of particular interest to local governments in Minnesota that don’t already operate their own liquor stores. In cities like Edina and Isanti, liquor stores serve as a revenue stream that helps reduce taxes for residents and businesses.

Because of conflicts with federal law, other states have shied away from adopting the state-owned liquor store model for cannabis retailers.

“The idea has been floated and rejected in various states, such as New Mexico and New Hampshire. Lawmakers have done so because cannabis remains illegal (Schedule I) under federal law and they do not wish to enact policies that place state-employees in a position where they are engaging in activity that is in positive conflict with federal law,” said Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, a national cannabis advocacy group.

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