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Opinion editor’s note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes a mix of national and local commentaries online and in print each day. To contribute, click here.

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In response to the June 12 editorial counterpoint, “Edibles law is not helpful” (June 13), and to the editorial, “Be cautious despite legal clarity on edibles” (June 5), it is important to recognize that Minnesota is changing — and changing for the better.

I don’t think anyone would dispute that the state is moving toward legalizing cannabis. The recent law signed by Gov. Tim Walz shows us there is light at the end of the tunnel. Since 2018, Minnesota has jumped into the hemp program and established a Gold Rush. (Or should I say a Green Rush?)

Without clear rules or direction, we have been in fields of gray. Our vision has always been about educating the public on the benefits of cannabis products. Generating support has been challenging, with no baseline rules to help guide the successful development of an emerging industry.

Plenty of dishonest people and unregulated products have hit the shelves, adding to the confusion about what hemp and its cannabinoids are and do. HF 3595, passed by the Legislature and signed by Walz, shows us a path for responsible production and lawful distribution, which until now has been hindered by the absence of established distribution channels and a clear path to market.

We have seen store shelves flooded with black market products that ignore the rules. These products are detrimental to our state’s economy; the jobs that Minnesota farmers and manufacturers created; and hindered the future, reputation and progression toward legalization of the industry.

After back surgery and constant pain, I was introduced to the benefits of CBD. I’m going on 12 years of sobriety and do not put any psychoactive products in my body. Finding a reliable, effective and trustworthy product with zero THC was challenging. So, like many entrepreneurs, I got into the industrial hemp program to grow CBD and help people understand and access CBD products.

This industry is like drinking water from a fire hose while riding a roller coaster in the dark and no real future seemed to exist — until now. We have a unique perspective in the business — as our team is a fully integrated “seed-to-shelf” organization. We are a massive hemp grower, operating a world-class manufacturing facility and owning seven retail outlets. We hear stories every day that capture our hearts and drive us to keep going through the tough times because we know we are making a difference in the lives of our neighbors.

I see this law as a great way to introduce and de-stigmatize a plant with many benefits. Now is our chance to write sensible rules and regulations that help grow Minnesota-based companies while creating a safe consumer marketplace.

I urge all Minnesotans to support our local economy, reach out to your elected officials, and help guide the rules that need to be in place.

Mathew Little, of Waseca, is COO of Midwest Extraction Services and Midwest Farms.

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