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What does it mean? Cannabis use in parks & trails

This legislative session saw the passage of many new laws, but one of the most discussed and confusing is the legalization of recreational cannabis, which took effect on August 1. Many details that remain unknown about the new law, especially when it comes to cannabis use in public spaces such as parks. Listed below is some information that members can refer to when formulating their plan on how to handle cannabis use at their parks:

  • The language approved by the Legislature allows people to smoke cannabis in many public spaces, including on sidewalks, in parks, and on restaurant patios that allow smoking unless a city bans it.
    • That’s leading some cities to move toward adopting ordinances restricting public use.
  • Smoking cannabis is prohibited in common areas of rental apartment buildings, in cars, indoor public spaces, workplaces, or spaces where a minor might inhale second-hand smoke.
  • According to Sen. Lindsey Port (DFL-Burnsville), if smoking laws and ordinances ban smoking somewhere, then marijuana would be banned as well.
  • The broadest category for where smoking can occur under that law is anywhere outdoors:
    • The new law’s only use of the phrase “in public” states that a local government may adopt ordinances that create petty misdemeanor offenses for unlawfully using cannabis or hemp products in a public place—both smoking and edibles—as long as it does not ban them in the three, clearly permitted places listed in the law (below).
      • A private residence including enclosed backyards, decks or patios.
      • Private property not accessible to the public as long as the owner is okay with it.
      • At cannabis events once the state drafts rules and issues licenses for these festivals.
  • Local governments would need to define those public places where it is unlawful to smoke cannabis in ordinances.
    • The state Clean Indoor Air Act already gives local governments authority to adopt and enforce more stringent measures to protect people from second-hand smoke.
    • A clause in the new bill to permit cannabis events—the one public place where a commercial licensee can allow smoking—gives cities and counties specific authority regarding cannabis.
  • Many city organizations and coalitions are advising their members to review what rules they have in place for smoking tobacco products in parks and other public places, because those rules can also be applied to cannabis users.
  • The Department of Natural Resources is still exploring the question of cannabis use in state parks and campgrounds and will issue rules at a later time.

Over the next couple of months, the GMPT Communications Committee is looking to organize a forum on the legalization of recreational cannabis and what it means for our parks and trails, so stay tuned for dates! Until then, Review the links below to learn more about the new cannabis law and regulations.




The GMPT Communications Committee has organized a forum on the legalization of recreational cannabis and what it means for our parks and trails, so join us on September 21 at 1:00 p.m. as we bring in a few experts to talk about the new law and their experience with it thus far. Kyle Hartnett, Assistant Research Manager at the League of Minnesota Cities, as well as a few city and county members who have already adopted policies on marijuana use, will be there to provide updates on the law’s details, answer questions, and discuss the issues everyone is facing.

Topic: GMPT Forum – Cannabis Challenges for Parks and Trails
Time: September 21, 2023, 1:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting:

Meeting ID: 833 1488 0907
Passcode: 539864

If you have any questions in advance that you would like to see answered, please contact us at