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Public health clause cited to regulate cannabis edibles

NEW ULM — The city enacted an emergency ordinance Tuesday which established temporary regulations on the sale of products with tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the principal psychoactive ingredient contained in cannabis.

The ordinance requires all individuals or businesses to provide written notice of their intent to sell edible cannabinoid products to New Ulm’s Finance Director. Individuals or businesses must keep the products behind a counter and only be accessible to customers who request an item from an employee. Sales can only be made to individuals over the age of 21.

The emergency ordinance comes in the wake of an amendment to Minnesota’s state statute. As of July 1, the use of edible cannabinoid products that contain no more than 0.3% of THC is legal.

Cities across Minnesota were caught off-guard by the sudden legalization of cannabis edibles, leaving many uncertain about how to regulate them. The law does not restrict what type of businesses can sell edible cannabinoids. The law does require the products only to be sold to individuals 21 and older, but few additional regulations are set. The law does not prevent local municipalities from creating regulations.

The council discussed possible regulations during an Aug. 2 work session and seemed to agree some kind of licensing should be instituted to sell edible cannabinoid products.

Typically, before an ordinance can go into effect, the city must hold two separate considerations of the ordinance. After that, the ordinance goes into effect 30 days after publication.

However, section 67 of New Ulm’s charter allows the city to immediately enact ordinances for health and safety purposes. The council chose to use this emergency provision to enact the temporary ordinance.

This emergency regulation requires sellers of edible cannabinoids to register with the finance director will remain in place until a permanent ordinance is adopted.

City Manager Chris Dalton said this will give the city time to look at how the city wants to license these products. The temporary ordinance sets basic rules and allows the city to know who is selling the products.

City Councilor David Christian said this is something all Minnesota cities are addressing, but there is a wide range of actions being taken. Some are taking the temporary licensing approach; others are passing moratoriums banning the products until regulations are written.

Councilor Eric Warmka said the emergency ordinance approach was more productive than a moratorium.

“A moratorium doesn’t help us at this point,” Warmka said. “Let’s get something in order.”

Dalton confirmed at least one business in New Ulm. The smoke shop on the east side of town next to Hy-Vee sells edibles. With the passage of this emergency ordinance, Dalton said all businesses currently selling edibles or planning to sell edibles must report to the city that they are selling them. The city will reach out to stores regarding this law.

Warmka made the motion to enact the emergency ordinance, with a second from David Christian. It was unanimously passed.

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