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County lifts moratorium on sales of edible THC

Cities with similar moratoriums need to adopt ordinance before licenses issued
Mavis Fodness

Rock County commissioners unanimously adopted an ordinance on Nov. 22, lifting the moratorium on sales of THC food and beverages in Rock County.
The hemp-derived products ordinance takes effect Friday, Dec. 2.
Commissioners passed the moratorium in July, and other county municipalities within the county, including Luverne, adopted similar moratoriums.
Those councils will now either adopt the county’s ordinance or add stipulations specific to their communities before commissioners issue the five available licenses.
The Nov. 22 public hearing was the second hearing conducted to lift the moratorium.
The first hearing was on Oct. 18.
Between the hearings additional input to regulate the sale of THC edible products was garnered from the two existing sellers in Rock County.
County Administrator Kyle Oldre said input from the first hearing and subsequent input from the retailers clarified the definition of hemp-derived products, reduced the number of licenses from 10 to 5, made businesses with existing liquor licenses ineligible for a hemp-derived products license, and removed the ban on coupons or price promotions offered by licensed businesses.
City attorney only speaker at second public hearing
Luverne City Attorney Ben Vander Kooi was the only one to speak publicly at the Nov. 22 public hearing.
He said the city supports the county’s proposed ordinance.
“We hope this is countywide so that it can be applied uniformly so it’s easier for law enforcement to handle,” he said. “We absolutely applaud your doing that. The only concern we have is prohibition in certain areas.”
The wording, “youth-oriented facilities,” which Vander Kooi defined as playgrounds and ball fields, was removed along with the proximity stipulations to a religious facility.
“That is the one restriction we would like kept in, if at all possible,” he said.
County attorney Jeff Haubrich served on the county committee that developed the ordinance.
Youth-oriented facilities, proximity to other licensed retailers, and churches were removed from the original ordinance.
“We took the churches (and other areas) out because it was so limiting in geographic area (for permitted sales),” said County Attorney Jeff Haubrich.
The current ordinance continues to prohibit sales of licensed products within 1,000 feet of a school and only from a storefront location, which shouldn’t affect youth-oriented facilities.
“We won’t let them sell at farmers markets or anything like that,” said Commissioner Jody Reisch.
Additionally, Vander Kooi questioned if the ordinance allowed businesses who have tobacco licenses to be “grandfathered in,” but are within the distance perimeter to a school. He supported reducing the distance to 500 feet.
“We think it is important to keep focus on that we don’t want kids to have this stuff, especially since gummies are candy-like. That’s why we raised this issue,” he said.
Haubrich clarified no grandfathering is a part of the hemp-derived products ordinance. All retail businesses must meet the stipulations under the THC edible sales ordinance before a license is issued.
After the 15-minute public hearing, commissioners passed the ordinance, keeping the distance to 1,000 feet from school property and buildings.
First to pass county THC ordinance
Rock County is one of the first counties in Minnesota to pass an ordinance for the sale of hemp-derived products since the state legalized the sale of THC (tetrahydrocannabinols) food and beverages on July 1.
However, the state’s legalization did not contain provisions for licensing, rules and sales, or management controls of the THC products.
The lack of regulations led commissioners to impose a moratorium through Dec. 1, after which the hemp-derived products ordinance goes into effect.
Rock County’s ordinance stipulates license fees, identification parameters, enforcement and compliance checks similar to those in place for tobacco sales.

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