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‘We fought a long battle to free the plants’: Minnesota cannabis businesses celebrate recreational marijuana legalization

Saturday’s Legacy Cannabis Cup was the first installment of the event since recreational marijuana was legalized in Minnesota, and there was a palpable excitement for the budding industry’s future among the gathered entrepreneurs.

It was a blazer, dude.

With record 88-degree heat and a steady haze of smoke hanging over the muddy event grounds, the annual Legacy Cup cannabis festival took to Surly Field Saturday afternoon. 

The fourth edition of the local weedapalooza was the first installment of the event since recreational marijuana was legalized in Minnesota, and there was a palpable excitement for the budding industry’s future among the gathered entrepreneurs. MinnPost took in the Cup, in interviews and photos:

Josh Wilken-Simon
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
Josh Wilken-Simon, founder of Legacy Glass and the Cannabis Cup: “I opened up a small shop in Duluth and then in 2016 opened up a big destination gallery and studio in Minneapolis. 

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“Right now, in our shops, we have 94 Minnesota glass blowers. This is a really vibrant modern art form, we do a lot of high-end glass pipe gallery shows, but in 2019 when I looked around, there was nothing in the cannabis space. All these festivals where you get to sample a different type of beer, and nothing on the cannabis side, so many people across the state living in the shadows: Maybe they enjoy some cannabis here and there with friends but it’s often in their garage and the back alley or something, and so really, how could we create a space for people to come together as a community? 

“And so I started in 2019, basically, just with what we have and what’s legal, so at that time, the federal bill (on hemp deregulation) passed, and so that year it was actually even just called ‘The Legacy CBD Cup.’ And at the core of the cup is a friendly competition of cannabis.

“I was able to be down at the Capitol a lot this last session, testifying, lobbying, helping people actually write certain aspects of the bill and being involved in legalization, which was an amazing experience. And one of the things that I was personally pushing for from the beginning, and was received very well, was the specific Cannabis Event Organizer license. There are some states that have passed recreational cannabis where this would never be allowed, and they’re even further along in the process with dispensaries open. And that goes into the debate with public consumption, and is it allowed in parks, and does the city ban it, etc. 

“So this was very important to me, on the cultural side of things, being able to have events. It’s part of the same debate around where people can consume cannabis, and part of that bill was to repair the damages that have been done with the war on drugs on communities that have been disproportionately impacted by prohibition, and lower income communities and often communities of color, if they don’t have any place to actually consume cannabis because they can’t in their apartment building, in their fourplex, they can’t in their vehicles. They can’t legally consume in public. 

“Now, it’s only legal for middle-income and rich white people, not legal for so many others, and that’s one of the many reasons why this was so important on the event side of things. There’s going to be a Cannabis Event Organizer license, which will be issued by the Office of Cannabis Management. I’ll be the first person to be applying for that license. What I’m doing this year is I’m really taking all of the aspects of the Cannabis Event Organizer license and even though I’m not required to by law, I’m applying them for this event to just show the city, state, and county that I’m doing this right, even though I’m not yet required. Part of that license requires a consumption area, you have to be in there legally to smoke, and that’s what we’re doing this year, because I’m just trying to do the right and responsible thing and get ahead of it.”

Legacy Cup
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
Event goers were greeted by a mural for the fourth installment of the Legacy Cup. 

Casey and Abbey Hedican
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
Casey and Abbey Hedican of MN Grown CBD.

Casey: “We started in 2019. We grew small-craft-one-acre-or-less for the past five seasons, outdoor Minnesota, and produced a number of new [strains] here over the past five years. We’re a small mom-and-pop shop and we really believe in local farms and farmers. My T-shirt (“Drug War Veteran”) is just an idea I came up with. I feel like we fought a long battle to free the plants. I’ve been consuming cannabis for over 20 years now, and I just really appreciate what’s going down with our home state right now.”

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Abbey: “We just really believe in supporting any local farmers, whether it’s the cannabis industry or any fellow farmers, growers, hash-makers. We support local, we really believe in the power of local. We’re just happy to see everybody here, in community. Minnesota’s in the house; we expect to get 10,000 people here today.”

Thomas Thorpe
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
Thomas Thorpe of Granny’s: “I grew up in Minnetonka, went to Hopkins High School. Me and my friend have been doing Granny’s for six or so years now. We’re both from Minnesota, but we’ve worked in the medical and recreational cannabis industry in Colorado and Oregon. Initially we just did it for friends and family, but now we’ve got this sweet platform in Minnesota for adult use, and we’re really excited to be a part of it.”  

Anthony Newby
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
Anthony Newby of Cultivated CBD

“I’m from Minnesota, born and raised. We started in 2018, launched products to market in 2019, and it’s been a slow grind, a slow build, and a labor of love, and it’s great to see the momentum building. We did one of these the first Legacy Cup, and there were 150-200 people there, and today I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s 10,000 or more. We specialize in manufacturing, and we’re obsessive about a lot of organic ingredients and using natural ingredients, straight from the plants, and use as little synthetics and artificials as we can possibly use. We make products that we love and release them to the public. As for [legalization], we’re slowly building out a plan for what a recreational-business would look like; this low-dose market is great, we want to continue doing this. Not everyone wants high THC products, but for those who do, we’re building out a business to sit alongside this. We’ll be ready to roll.”   

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Therese Hogan
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
Therese Hogan (second from left) of T’s THC: “We LLC-ed in July, and we’re looking to 2025, when we’ll be legal cultivation. We’re in Leech Lake, in Walker, Minnesota. We already have a building going up right now. We just have to wait for all the rules and regulations to come down from the Office of Cannabis Management. We’re making craft indoor cannabis and shooting for the high-end market. We have a lot of different strains, but the favorite one we’re looking at most is the Filipino Kibungan, and it’s a land-raised strain from the mountains of the Northern Philippines, which is where I’m from, but it doesn’t grow there anymore. One Filipino guy came over to the United States with it and gave us the seeds, so we want to keep that tradition going.”   

Petra King
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
Petra King, a sales rep for You Betcha! Cannabis:

“We’re an all-organic farm located in Elk River, Minnesota, and we make all our products in St. Louis Park, and we’re really health- and wellness-focused. We have a CBD line, and a THC line. We have gummies, gluten free and vegan, and a new super awesome organic bar. We’re super excited about legalization, even though a lot of it hasn’t been mapped out yet. We’re a Minnesota brand, we’re proud to be a Minnesota brand, and the [brand name] is just a really catchy phrase. People come up to the booth and say, ‘Can I get a sample?’ And we say, ‘You betcha!,’ right?”

Doc Dabs
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
In the wake of the state’s hiring and firing of the first-ever director of the Office of Cannabis Management, event goers nominated their own candidates.

Zach Glazz
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
Zach Glazz (nee Arnold): “I’ve been blowing glass for the last eight, night years; full-time the last four. I have my own independent studio over in Dinkytown. I do my own tubing and turn it into pipes and bongs and jars, all kinds of things. Price range is $30 to $300, sometimes more if you’re looking for something fancy or custom.”

Tanner Berris
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
Tanner Berris of the Minnesota Cannabis College

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“We’re a nonprofit helping people become part of the industry. If they want to be employees or entrepreneurs, if they have that passion, we want to give them the education to get there. We’ve been doing this for three years here, focusing mostly on the hemp industry, and now with [legalization], this opens it up where now there’s going to be so many more careers and entrepreneurial opportunities and it’s really going to be the industry we’ve been planning on for years.” 

Smoking Den
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
Josh Wilken-Simon: “With the post-adult-use legalization landscape now, we’ve got this massive space fenced off, and that’s specifically a cannabis consumption zone. We encouraged attendees to bring their weed, bring their hash, bring their favorite pipe and be able to safely and legally consume with friends, the rest of the community. So that’s monumental.

“Those Cannabis Event Organizer license [applications] will come online most likely at the same time that the dispensary licenses will come online. So what will be allowed at this event in the future — maybe next year, but with the pace of government, probably two years from now — will be licensed dispensaries will be able to come get a vendor booth at the Legacy Cup and be able to actually sell weed and hash right from their vendor booths. Which of course is not allowed this year. But in the future when dispensaries are open, we can have all the different dispensaries represented. In the future, we’ll be able to have all the Minnesota cannabis brands, from the growers to the extractors to the farmers, all of them will be able to compete for best indoor flower and best outdoor flower and best hash and all of these categories, because those products will be commercially available.”

Emma Clark
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
Emma Clark, sales director for Minny Grown: 

Zach Rohr started the company in 2019, and he developed a hemp food line. He had already established a great foundation in the Twin Cities with his award-winning CBD topicals and tinctures and gummies, and we will be integrating into the recreational scene. We have a lot of big things coming up.”

John Chong
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
John Chong of Rank Really High: “We’ve been in business for about two years. The co-founder/CEO had a previous company in Minnesota and he was watching all his friends in Massachusetts post about recreational pot, and when he went to all the websites he realized that they were using an antiquated technology and said, ‘Well, cannabis dispensaries should feel more like shopping on Amazon, or Target.’ The Rank Really High domain name was registered that day, and now that it’s recreational here in Minnesota, we’re looking to set some foundation here as well.”

Josh Maslowski
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
Josh Maslowski (center), founder of Stigma:

“We’ve been in the hemp and low-dose THC space since 2019, and we’ll continue with that until we’re able to apply for a dispensary license and all that. In a perfect world, we’d like to do both, but I’m not sure if that’s feasible or possible. Our end-goal has always been adult-use-strength cannabis. ‘Stigma’ has a dual meaning. The stigma that is given the social use of the plant that’s existed for years, but the part of the plant that the resin grows on is the stigma of the flower. For now, we’re in the business of low-dose THC and rolling out more beverages and edibles until the state gets the licensing figured out.”