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Nisswa adopts moratorium on THC products

City joins a handful of other small Minnesota cities approving similar moratoriums to provide time to study the issue

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NISSWA — Nisswa joins just a handful of other Minnesota cities to enact a moratorium on the sale and production of hemp-derived tetrahydrocannabinol - or THC - products.

After holding a public hearing at its regular meeting Tuesday, Aug. 16, regarding recent state legislation authorizing THC product use, the Nisswa City Council enacted a moratorium for up to a year on the sale and production of THC products in the city.

There’s so many loose threads on this legislation. The whole state is up in the air basically.
Don Jacobson, Nisswa City Council

Several other Minnesota cities - including Waseca, Robbinsdale, Marshall and St. Joseph - have adopted similar moratoriums.

Last month after brief discussion, a three-person Nisswa City Council agreed additional information was needed regarding this state legislation.

No one from the public spoke during the Aug. 16 public hearing. Council members all voiced support for a moratorium.

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Council member Don Jacobson said the Legislature provided no direction on how to implement the legislation. He doesn’t think legislators thought it through and he didn’t hear it talked about during the legislative session.

“There’s so many loose threads on this legislation. The whole state is up in the air basically,” he said, noting he doesn’t think THC should be put in edible items.

Council member Jesse Zahn agreed with Jacobson, saying he wanted Police Chief Craig Taylor’s thoughts on it.

In a council memo, Taylor said the THC legislation won’t impact enforcement efforts. Officers are aware of the law and there is no concern of accidentally issuing a citation for possession of products that are now legal.

“In reality, small amounts of marijuana have been decriminalized years ago and enforcement of possession of these products has not been a high priority for some time,” the memo said.

The police K9 wasn’t trained to detect THC because of this anticipated legislation.

Municipal liquor stores wouldn’t be affected because under state law, exclusive liquor stores can’t sell products containing CBD, hemp or THC.

Mayor John Ryan believes the Legislature will take up this topic again next session.

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Council member Mark Utzinger isn’t so much against the idea, but he was unsure of the logic of the legislation.

Council member Mark Froehle wanted to see a moratorium and not just take the wait-and-see approach.

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A moratorium won’t stop people from using THC products, Ryan said, noting they could bring it into the community from elsewhere.

A memo from City Administrator Jenny Max noted Brainerd, Baxter, East Gull Lake, Crosby, Pequot Lakes, Breezy Point and Lake Shore are so far in a “wait and see” position on this topic.

Max also shared a memo with comments received from local businesses on the topic - some in favor and some opposed to the legislation - as well as articles she found that describe the effects of THC products and comparisons to other similar products.

The state law permits the sale of edible cannabinoid products provided that a product sold for human or animal consumption is within specified limits for the amount of THC in them.

Specifically, the Nisswa moratorium prohibits the establishment of new uses or the expansion of existing uses related to sales, testing, manufacturing and distribution of THC products.

“The following ordinance is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public space, health, morals, safety and welfare because of the inherent risk of injury to persons related to the recently legalized sale of edible cannabinoid products containing Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC),” the ordinance reads.

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Prohibiting the establishment of new uses or the expansion of existing uses related to the sale of such products is necessary to ensure the city has sufficient time to study potential regulations that will protect the health and safety of residents, the ordinance says.

Find recordings of Nisswa City Council meetings on the city's YouTube channel.

Nancy Vogt, editor, may be reached at 218-855-5877 or nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com . Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.

Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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