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Everything you need to know about cannabis policy


A cannabis conversation with John Bartee III

From user to activist to lobbyist 

“I was afraid the same thing would happen to me,” says John Bartee III about the death of Philando Castile. Being a cannabis user, he feared that the cannabis policy at the time (or lack thereof) would lead him to being shot and killed for smelling of marijuana, just like Philando Castile. That fear brought him to cannabis activism in 2018, and he sought out an activist group that was motivated and focused on changing the cannabis laws, fast. That activist group was the Minnesota Campaign for Full Legalization. For several years, he helped the group write policy and toured the state of Minnesota to build support for sustainable and progressive cannabis laws. Then in 2020, he had the opportunity to turn his activism into a career by becoming a lobbyist for a local cannabis company. “People don’t care enough about the politics of cannabis,” says John, “and that’s why I am passionate about bringing more awareness to cannabis policy and continuing to build support for it.” 


MN Attorney General Keith Ellison, Ericka Trevino (Cultivated CBD), John Bartee III
MN Attorney General Keith Ellison, Ericka Trevino (Cultivated CBD), John Bartee III

So, what is cannabis policy?

The Alcohol Policy Information System (APIS) describes cannabis policy as being the laws that legalize the cultivation, sale, or use of recreational (non-medical) cannabis, together with the laws that impose various prohibitions and restrictions on such practices. But John puts it in *blunt* terms, stating that it’s “the rules and regulations surrounding the seed to the sale of the plant, post prohibition.” That being said, the rules and regulations at the state-level are not uniform throughout the U.S.

Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp that contains less than 0.3% THC is legal at the federal level. That’s why hemp-derived products (like Mary & Jane) can be shipped to cannabis connoisseurs in most states. However, not all states have the same rules when it comes to adult-use and medical-use cannabis that goes beyond the hemp-derived products legalized in the current Farm Bill (we’re looking at you, Idaho). For example, Minnesota legalized the possession, use, and home grow of cannabis in 2023, and in 2025, the applications for business licenses will become available (that’s right, dispensaries coming soon). Minnesota is now 1 of 24 states that have legalized cannabis for adult-use and medical-use, the rest of the states having only one or the other, or neither; unintuitive, we know.

He might be biased, but John believes that “Minnesota is the state that other states are going to model their cannabis policy around going forward.” The state’s bill to legalize cannabis had the most hearings in 60 years, and he is confident that the hard work that has gone into building out its robust cannabis policy will pay off. “The cannabis policies throughout the country are trending in the right direction,” says John. “For states that have legalized cannabis, the industry has generated too much money for the federal government to not want to get its hands on it.” John has already seen super cool industries form (think edibles and beverages) as a result of the current cannabis policies, and he is excited for what’s to come as the policies continue to progress over the next 5 to 10 years. 

Be in the know

When asked, What is the most important message you want to leave with the Mary & Jane community? John responded with, “Read the bill! Remind people that information is key, and that many of the problems that people have with cannabis and cannabis policy is because of not reading. It is important to make decisions from the most informed standpoint.” He also wanted to remind the community that in Minnesota, the legislation calls for automatically expunging low-level cannabis convictions, and in regard to the war on drugs, “the best thing you can do is talk about it, and remind people that expungements and expungement clinics are available.” 

To learn more about the cannabis policy in your state, the National Conference of State Legislatures has an interactive page that lays out policies and resources by state. The state regulated cannabis programs map is helpful to determine if your state has legalized adult-use and/or medical-use cannabis, and the cannabis law tables are helpful to find additional details about your state’s policy. For those that are local, John recommends checking out Minnesota Office of Cannabis Management and Minnesota Cannabis College. The Minnesota Cannabis College is run by an actual teacher and board, and they archive all of the public information that is released about cannabis and cannabis policy. The site also has a newsletter, as well as a podcast, Northern Lights, that John helps to host, and it features people in the cannabis space and highlights the most important things that have happened in the space that week. If you are interested in getting more involved, John is part of the Cannabis Retailers and Manufacturers Association of Minnesota, and he shared that, “the association is looking for more people to sign-up and join.” If you have been looking for a sign to be more active in the cannabis space, this is it!