Council approves licensing for THC edible sellers

moorhead city council

The Moorhead City Council has finalized its approval of local regulation of the sale and manufacture of THC edibles — beverages, candies and other food products containing up to 0.5% tetrahydrocannabinol, a major psychoactive component of cannabis that affects mood. Legal products cannot contain more than 0.3% THC or 5 mg. of the active ingredient per serving.

When the Minnesota Legislature legalized the sale of THC-infused edibles in its 2022 session, the law left most regulation up to individual cities. Sales of those hemp-derived products became legal in July. The council began debating how to approach the issue a month ago.

City staff formulated a law including the central issues of local control in October, including license fees, settings in which sales would be allowed, and zoning requirements for the manufacture of such products. The most contentious issue at that time was the amount to be charged for licenses. Originally set at $125, the same level as sellers of tobacco products, secondhand stores and massages. At that time, several members advocated a much higher fee of $6,000, the amount charged for liquor licenses.

At its Oct. 24 meeting, the council approved on first reading a measure setting the fee at $750, the median of that charged by other Minnesota cities that have grappled with the issue. On-sale liquor establishments and restaurants were also added to the list of acceptable sellers in a move to make it more fair; though THC products can be sold there, they cannot be consumes on the premises The measure was approved by a vote of six to two, with Shelly Dahlquist and Chuck Hendrickson voting against it.

The license fee came up again at the second reading Nov. 14. Council member Larry Seljevold argued for a lower level, $200, the same as an off-sale liquor license, arguing that since the city’s role will only be to monitor underage selling. He also urged that restaurants be excluded, since enforcing the rule about no consumption on their premises would be difficult for staff to monitor. His motion died for lack of a second.

Dahlquist expressed concern over how the law would be enforced, including sales to those under the legal age of 21. City manager Dan Mahli explained that the law under consideration addressed only licensing and land use, including no criminal provisions.

City attorney John Shockley suggested the council wait on examining the criminal aspect until after the 2023 Minnesota Legislature has acted on the proposal to legalize recreational marijuana, widely expected to pass in the upcoming session.

In the end, the council went on to approve the original version by a vote of seven to one, with Dahlquist again voting no.

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