Faribault Legalization Day 1 – Police Seize Weed Plants

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Young cannabis plant in a pot Faribault
Photo: Shutterstock

Faribault police seize weed plants for sale at tobacco store

FARIBAULT, Minn. – A Minnesota tobacco shop is under fire for accusations it broke the new marijuana law on day one.

Cannabis use became legal in the state Tuesday. Only the self-governed Red Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota is selling it for now. Other stores must wait until they can get licensed.

Just before 5 p.m. Tuesday, not even 24 hours since weed became legal, Faribault police busted a pot plant sale outside Total Tobacco, just off Fourth Street Northwest.

Police say they received several citizen complaints, and observed 22 marijuana plants for sale.

“There’s a lot of confusion, misinformation, misunderstanding of the law,” said Chief John Sherwin.

They say some of the plants contained THC concentrations exceeding the percentage allowed for legally-grown hemp.

“I just didn’t know that that would happen eight hours into the business day on the first day of legalized marijuana,” Sherwin said.

Matt Little, who lives in Mankato, was selling the plants at the Faribault tobacco shop. He went to the police station after hearing the news.

“I get a call from one of our distributors in Faribault and she’s hysterical and crying, and I’m like ‘What’s going on?'” said Little, managing partner at Midwest Extraction Services. “I drove an hour away from Mankato, Faribault, showed up, stood out in front of these doors for an hour and a half til somebody got down here.”

Little says what he was doing was perfectly legal since the plants he was selling were not flowering, and too immature to contain THC.

“I’ve sold successfully hundreds of plants out of Mankato and talked to the police department, had a conversation with the police department, showed them the licensing, showed them why we think we’re in the right,” Little said.

But that’s not the case, according to the Minnesota Office of Cannabis Management. They tell WCCO that until their office is fully operational, “no retail sales are legal (unless conducted by tribes on tribal land) until businesses are licensed by the Office of Cannabis Management.”

For police, the illegality here is crystal clear.

“The plants that we seized yesterday, they’re not intended to be industrial hemp. They’re intended to be raw cannabis that can be consumed,” Sherwin said.

Police say no one was arrested, and that this is part of an ongoing investigation being done with county authorities and a drug task force.