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Handful of Minnesota cities pause cannabis edible sales as they develop local rules

In the past month, the cities of Marshall, Robbinsdale and St. Joseph approved moratoriums on sales. Other cities across Minnesota are also considering moratoriums as they weigh how they'll tackle enforcement.

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Duluth and St. Louis County have not determined an approach to the oversight of newly legalized THC edibles.
TNS file photo
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ST.PAUL — As cities across Minnesota figure out how they’ll regulate food and drinks containing the component of cannabis that causes a high, some cities have opted to block sales altogether.

In the past month, the cities of Marshall, Robbinsdale and St. Joseph approved moratoriums on sales. Other cities across Minnesota are also considering moratoriums as they weigh how they'll tackle enforcement, including Waite Park near St. Cloud, and the Twin Cities suburb of Prior Lake. Stillwater enacted a one-year moratorium on all cannabis product sales in November 2021, including the nonpsychoactive hemp product CBD.

Food and beverages containing THC, the psychoactive part of cannabis, became legal in Minnesota on July 1 . The new law allows products to contain 5 milligrams of THC per serving so long as it is derived from hemp, not marijuana, which remains illegal under federal law. Packages can contain a total of 50 milligrams of THC. Sales are restricted to those 21 and older.

Ahead of passing an emergency ordinance banning the sale of THC edibles on July 12, city council members in the southwestern Minnesota city of Marshall expressed concerns about what legalization might mean for their community.

“We have no regulations. We have no monitoring. We have no taxing. I worry about the people who are most at risk: the children, the young, the elderly people on multiple medications,“ said council member Steve Meister, later adding: “Taking a timeout just to do a little research on the pros, the cons, the benefits, the risks and figuring out how we're going to deal with this not only in the city of Marshall, but the state, is a great idea.”

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Legalization of cannabis edibles came as a surprise to many Minnesotans, including some GOP lawmakers who voted in its favor, but the new law was no accident. Drug reform advocates, lawmakers and the hemp industry worked with the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy and state agriculture officials to craft the bill, which passed the Legislature as part of a larger health policy package.

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Bill author Rep. Heather Edelson, DFL-Edina, said she hoped the new law would help regulate already-legal delta-8 THC products, which are different from the delta-9 THC now legal in Minnesota. Edelson earlier this month said the bill did not include the creation of a state compliance board as it would have attracted more attention from Republicans and prevented the bill from passing.

The pharmacy board is the agency regulating the products, with requirements including labels showing serving sizes, ingredients and a warning to keep the product out of reach of children.

But the question of enforcement and regulations beyond the state rules is up to cities and counties. Cities could potentially license cannabis sellers as they currently do with businesses that sell tobacco.

The League of Minnesota Cities, which represents 800 cities across the state, has issued detailed guidance to its members on cannabis policies. Cities can decide where sales are allowed, which businesses can sell the products, and hours sales can take place.

Violation of the regulations is a misdemeanor and county attorneys are ultimately responsible for prosecuting offenses.

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Alex Derosier covers Minnesota breaking news and state government for Forum News Service.
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