Tribe opens adult-use marijuana store as Minnesota legalization begins

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A Native American tribe in Minnesota launched recreational marijuana sales Tuesday, the first day the state’s new law legalizing possession, use and home grows went into effect.

NativeCare, which previously sold medical marijuana, opened its doors on the remote Red Lake Nation to consumers, the Minnesota Reformer reported, sparking a new era for cannabis enthusiasts and advocates in the Midwest market.

More than a hundred shoppers lined up to be among the first to purchase recreational marijuana at NativeCare, with some driving hours from neighboring states in the Great Plains, according to the Reformer.

The Red Lake Nation, located about 250 miles north of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, better known as the Twin Cities, announced its planned opening a few weeks ago.

Similar to other states, such as ArizonaNevada and New York, tribal nations in Minnesota can establish marijuana retail programs outside the scope and enforcement of state regulators.

And, in many U.S. markets, tribal nations are the first to launch adult-use sales.

Another Minnesota tribe, White Earth Nation, plans to open an adult-use store in the coming days in Mahnomen and establish a cultivation operation, according to the Reformer.

Tribes will have at least a one-year head start on sales over state-licensed medical and recreational cannabis retailers and other marijuana operators.

Adult-use licenses are expected to be issued in late 2024, with stores opening in early 2025, industry insiders told MJBizDaily.

Minnesota legalized recreational marijuana in April after having launched MMJ sales in 2015.

Meanwhile, sales of low-dose hemp-derived THC products are booming in Minnesota, fueled by widespread retail access, easing stigmas associated with marijuana and the state’s geographic position on the map.