Minnesota Cannabis Consultant Overview:

How To Open A Marijuana Business in Minnesota

Are you interested in starting a cannabis business in Minnesota? The cannabis consultants at New Leaf can help you navigate the process!

This summary of Minnesota requirements and license application process outlines what it takes to win a marijuana business license. Get started today to meet the demands of consumers! Schedule a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable cannabis consultants in Minnesota.

Minnesota Cannabis Consulting & License Application Writing Experts

New Leaf Cannabis Consulting is the #1 Top Rated Cannabis Application Writing, Consulting, and Capital Fundraising one-stop-shop in the U.S. We offer a complete range of services from business model formation and planning, to state licensure, to raising capital and finding investors for the business.

New Leaf has worked with over 180 clients in over 16 different states since we opened our doors in 2015. Our success rate is well over 95% across the board. We offer more services than any of our competition.

If you need cash for your cannabis startup, and/or state and municipal license approval for a completely reasonable price, look no further than New Leaf Cannabis Consulting.

Cannabis Market Condition Overview

Business Climate and Timeline

On May 30, 2023, Governor Tim Walz signed the adult-use cannabis bill into law. The legislation created the Minnesota Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) which will oversee and regulate the adult-use and lower-potency hemp edible markets as well as the Minnesota Medical Cannabis Program (formerly overseen by the Department of Health).

Adult-use Legislation Key Points:

  • Adults 21 and older will be able to legally use and possess certain amounts of cannabis in Minnesota effective Aug. 1, 2023. Note that cannabis is still illegal on federal property.
  • Lower-potency THC hemp edibles will continue to be allowed.
  • People 21 and older will be allowed to grow a limited amount of cannabis at home for personal use.
  • Tax on cannabis product sales will be 10% in addition to state and local sales taxes. Local governments will not collect an additional cannabis-specific tax.
  • Cannabis tax revenue will be split 80% for the state’s general fund and 20% to local government aid.
  • Medical cannabis product sales are not taxed.
  • Local governments can limit the number of cannabis retailers to one for every 12,500 residents.
  • Legislation proposes that retail sales for adult use cannabis in Minnesota begin in the first quarter of 2025.
  • Minnesotans will be allowed to possess and use certain amounts of cannabis and cannabis products beginning Aug. 1, 2023.
  • Adults age 21 and older will be allowed to possess or transport up to 2 ounces of cannabis flower, 8 grams of concentrate and 800 milligrams of edible product (including low-potency hemp-derived product). An adult may also possess up to two pounds of cannabis flower in a private residence.
    Minnesota will continue to have a Medical Cannabis Program, which will move from the Minnesota Department of Health to the Office of Cannabis Management effective March 1, 2025.
  • Lower-potency hemp edibles will continue to be sold. Regulation will transfer to the Office of Cannabis Management on March 1, 2025.
  • The regulatory framework will take time to develop and will require input from communities throughout the state. The OCM will continue to post additional information as it becomes available.

Real Estate & Zoning

In most states, you will need to lock down the location for business operations in the form of either a lease, lease with option to purchase, or a purchase agreement.

Most importantly, during the real estate acquisition process, your company MUST make sure that the actual location COMPLETELY adheres to state and municipal regulations regarding distance restrictions from other businesses such as a daycare or school. An example of this would be Dispensary/Retail. Most times you will not be able to locate your dispensary in a section of the city which is not zoned specifically for retail. Your dispensary location cannot be located anywhere else. Check with the Minnesota Office of Cannabis Management for locality resolutions and ordinances.

Usually the next step is Municipal/City/Township Approval. Nine times out of ten, these steps will need to take place before the full license application can be completed and submitted.

Need assistance getting a Minnesota cannabis business license?  Schedule a Free Consultation

Minnesota Cannabis License Types

Minnesota is offering ten primary types of adult-use cannabis licenses and a few additional event endorsements/licenses:

  • Microbusiness License
  • Mezzobusiness License
  • Cultivator
  • Manufacturer
  • Wholesaler
  • Retailer
  • Transporter
  • Testing Facility
  • Delivery Service
  • On-Site Consumption Lounge
  • Event Organizer
  • Event Sales

The legislation also includes lower-potency hemp edible manufacturer and retailer licenses, plus four types of medical cannabis licenses (cultivator, processor, retailer, and a combination business license).

Minnesota Cannabis License Process and Scoring Criteria

Application Process for a Minnesota Cannabis Business License

Applications will be scored and are merit-based. The OCM will award points bases on:

  • social equity status
  • veteran applicant status
  • security plan
  • record-keeping plan​
  • employee training and education plan
  • environmental plan
  • business plan and financial situation
  • diversity plan
  • labor and employment practices
  • knowledge/experience

The application will also require:

  • criminal history check
  • operation plan to ensure compliance
  • labor peace agreement signed attestation
  • commitments made including how you will maintain your labor peace agreement
  • certification of compliance with the cannabis business ownership and operation requirements
  • identification of controlling persons or managerial employees as responsible agent to the office
  • statement of agreement to respond to the office’s supplemental requests
  • disclosure of ownership and control

Social Equity Status, Priority Applicants

Social equity applicants will be scored higher — status as a social equity applicant must account for at least 20%​ of the total available points. The OCM will determine the points awarded by considering the number of — or​ ownership percentage of — cooperative members, officers, directors, managers, and general​ partners who qualify as social equity applicants.

The OCM prioritizes people living in low-income neighborhoods that have experienced a disproportionate impact from cannabis prohibition, and military veterans who lost honorable status due to a cannabis-related offense. Social equity priority licensing includes people who were convicted of cannabis-related offenses before the effective date of the legislation.

Social Equity Applicants

To qualify as a social equity priority applicant, the individual is:​

  • a military veteran who lost honorable status due to a cannabis-related offense;
  • a resident for the last five years of one or more subareas including census tracts or​ neighborhoods, that experienced a disproportionately large amount of cannabis enforcement​ as determined by the study conducted by the OCM; or​
  • a resident for the last five years of one or more census tracts where, as reported in​ the most recently completed decennial census published by the United States Bureau of the​ Census, either:​
    poverty rate 20% or more, or,
  • the median family income did not exceed 80% of statewide median family​ income or,
  • if in a metropolitan area, did not exceed the greater of 80% of the statewide​ median family income or 80% of the median family income for that metropolitan​ area.​

The proposed state laws would ban local municipalities from opting out from allowing cannabis businesses to locate within their jurisdictions. Municipalities would be allowed to review for compliance and could set limits on times of operations.

Minnesota Cannabis License Requirements

Cannabis licenses are awarded by having a complete and well written application and all required supplemental documentation as well as city approval. An applicant’s criminal history also comes into play as well as past taxes of the owner/directors of the company. And of course, sometimes there is a required proof of capitalization — i.e. proving that you will have enough money in the bank to build out and run your business.

In highly competitive states such as Illinois or New York, there is a scoring process for an extremely limited number of available licenses. Licenses will be awarded to only the best of the best submissions. It is highly suggested that you hire an agency that can provide you with an “above and beyond” application submission.

Eligibility for a Cannabis License in Minnesota

To apply for a marijuana license in Minnesota, applicants must meet several qualifications and eligibility requirements necessary to receive a license. Each applicant must be 21 years of age or older and is required to undergo a criminal background check.

Application Requirements for Marijuana Licenses in Minnesota

To apply for a cannabis business license, you must show compliance with Minnesota laws and local ordinances. To illustrate your commitment to the process, hundreds of pages of technical writing may be necessary.

Some of the necessary documentation includes the following:

  • License Application (Required Measures and/or Exhibits). A well written application will need to be written in lockstep with the State Regulations for each Exhibit/measure.
  • Business Plan. Including executive summary, mission statement, market analysis, 5 to 7 year business life-cycle timeline with expansion events. Products and services, management and staff, SWOT analysis, quality assurance and compliance.
  • Financials. Full 5 to 7 year financial projections, income statement, balance sheet, statement of cash flows.
  • Operations Manuals, Exhibits and SOP’s such as:
    • Inventory and Recordkeeping/Diversion
    • Quality Assurance Manuals
    • Operations Manuals/Procedures for cultivation, processing, dispensary, lab testing, transportation
    • Transportation and Distribution Plan
    • Employee, Staffing and Training Manuals
    • Social and Economic Impact/equity plans/community outreach plan
    • Environmental Plans with water and electrical usage plan/manual
    • Chemical and Pesticide Storage Plans
    • Waste Disposal Procedures
    • Accounting and Tax Compliance
    • Hemp Research Plan
    • Sanitation and Maintenance Plans
    • Odor Control Plan
    • Patient/Customer Education Manuals (mainly for dispensary/retail)
  • Labor/Union Compliance Agreements
  • Training Manuals. New Leaf will design manuals to your specifications, along with state regulations, for all cannabis business models
  • Regulatory Compliance Manuals. These explain all the different regulatory compliance regulations, such as quality assurance, product recall, packaging and labeling, advertising, hours of operation, patient and/or customer purchase limits, staffing and training, inventory and record keeping, security, tax payment and insurance compliance.
  • Security Plan. Video Surveillance, Alarm System, Emergency Procedures.
  • Floor Plans, Blueprints. To-Scale, with Security Overlays. Floor plans of the entire facility.
  • Corporate Structuring. Social Equity Certification and Registration, LLC and Corporation Registration and FEIN filing, Operating Agreements, Capitalization Tables, Shareholder Rights and Regulations Consultation, Corporate Bylaw Strategy.

Post Licensure Support. New Leaf serves as a liaison between you, your company, and the State Licensing Commission to help you get through the application evaluation. The State, no matter how good your application is, most definitely will have follow up questions and requests for additional documentation and/or information.

Denial Appeal. Denial appeal is also part of the Post Licensure Support.

Financial Requirements — How much does it cost to get a cannabis license in Minnesota?

Many states will require what is known as a Capitalization Attestation. What is this, you may ask? A capitalization attestation is usually done by a CPA. It involves submitting your profit and loss statements, bank account information, proof of funds, and an assumption of the costs for startup CapEx and OpEx.

Need Cash for your Cannabis Startup? New Leaf offers a full suite of Investment Capital Fundraising Services including corporate structuring and partnership agreements, 409 (B) company valuations, 5-7 year pro forma financial projections, and more! New Leaf will act on your behalf in actually SHOPPING the deal to our syndicate of accredited investors from across the globe. We can help you successfully raise the capital needed to get your project off the ground. Find out more here.

Application, License and Renewal Fees

Licenses must be renewed annually and may not be transferred.​ The application fee is nonrefundable.

  • Microbusiness: application fee $500, no initial license fee; renewal license $2,000.
  • Mezzobusiness: application fee $5000, initial license fee $5000, renewal license $10,000.
  • Cultivator: application fee $10,000, initial license fee $20,000, renewal license $30,000.
  • Manufacturer: application fee $10,000, initial license fee $10,000, renewal license $20,000.
  • Retailer: application fee $2500, initial license fee $2500, renewal license $5000
  • Wholesaler: application fee $5000, initial license fee $5000, renewal license $10,000.
  • Transporter: application fee $250, initial license fee $500, renewal license $1000.
  • Testing Facility: application fee $10,000, initial license fee $10,000, renewal license $20,000.
  • Event Organizer: application fee $750, initial license fee $750
  • Delivery Service: application fee $250, initial license fee $500, renewal license fee $1000.

How to Win a Minnesota Cannabis Business License

A step-by-step guide on how to apply for and WIN a cannabis license in Minnesota.

  1. Review the state laws, rules & regulations. Learn about the rules and regulations necessary to operate a cannabis business in the State of Minnesota. This will help you and your team understand the requirements to win a cannabis license.
  2. Choose a Minnesota cannabis business license type. Minnesota issues 10 different primary types of cannabis business licenses.
  3. Connect with a Minnesota cannabis consulting firm. Consider reaching out to a Minnesota cannabis consultant. Cannabis business license applications can be extremely complex and time-consuming to write. The professional Minnesota marijuana consultants at New Leaf can manage the entire process for you. We can assist you with license application writing services, increasing your chance of winning a cannabis license in Minnesota. Book a free consultation today!
  4. Form a business entity. Forming a legal business entity is the next step in the process of applying for a cannabis license in Minnesota. LLCs and corporations are the two types most commonly formed by cannabis applicants. Find out which is the best choice for your business goals — we can help.
  5. Select a location for your cannabis business in Minnesota. Choosing a property for your cannabis business that meets all the state and local requirements can be complicated as well. Our experience with zoning processes that can help you find the ideal property for your marijuana business.
  6. Build the best team. The team that you list on your application will have a major impact on whether or not you receive a license.
  7. Write a business plan. After securing a location for your cannabis business, the next step is to develop a carefully detailed business plan. Your business plan will help lay out your goals and track progress as your business begins to grow. Business plans can also help attract investors. Investors use them to determine if a business is on the right path and worth putting money into.
  8. Raise capital for your Minnesota cannabis business. Although start-up costs for a cannabis business can be significant, careful planning and the right team can make it a huge success. New Leaf can help you craft a detailed plan and get it into the hands of investors.
  9. Write and submit your Minnesota cannabis business application. Depending on type of license, applicants may need to write and submit the following documentation:
  • Business Plan and Financials
  • Corporate Structuring
  • Safety and Security Plan
  • Location Information
  • Waste Disposal Procedures
  • Transportation and Distribution Plans
  • Employee, Staffing and Training Manuals
  • Regulatory and Compliance Plans
  • Quality Assurance and Control Plans
  • and much more!