ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Alexandria City Council chews on rules regulating THC

THC, a psychoactive component of cannabis that gets users high, was legalized statewide on July 1 in a surprise move by the state Legislature.

edibles.jpg
A customer shows the products she bought from Nothing But Hemp in St. Paul. Some of the products contain THC, which became legal under 5 milligrams per serving in Minnesota on Friday, July 1, 2022.
Grace Birnstengel | MPR News
We are part of The Trust Project.

ALEXANDRIA — After getting feedback at a public hearing, the Alexandria City Council voted Monday to table an ordinance that would establish licenses and other regulations for edibles containing THC.

THC, a psychoactive component of cannabis that gets users high, was legalized statewide on July 1 in a surprise move by the state Legislature. This left city leaders throughout the state scrambling to find answers on how to regulate THC sales through zoning and licensing.

At the hearing, State Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen of Alexandria, said he opposes legalizing higher concentrations of THC in products. He compared it to marijuana, something he fought against during his many years in the Legislature. He said he's heard "horror stories" about marijuana causing injuries and even deaths.

Ingebrigtsen acknowledged that he was one of all 67 senators who voted for the bill in the waning hours of the legislative session without realizing the bill made THC products legal.

"I made a mistake — I truly did," Ingebrigtsen said, explaining that it was part of a health and human services bill that contained good policy.

ADVERTISEMENT

Ingebrigtsen said THC edibles could create potentially dangerous situations. He described a scenario where a couple are drinking beer and THC edibles, and then fall asleep or leave the room. Their toddler, he said could see the edibles, think it's candy and eat several pieces.

"Can you imagine what a tragedy that would be?" he asked.

The city has drafted a 16-page document that sets the age for buying or selling THC products at 21, establishes a process for revoking or suspending licenses, requires fees ($3,600 for a license), restricts where THC products can be consumed, requires compliance checks and inspections of THC retailers, imposes penalties for violating the ordinance, and other provisions, some based on laws passed in Boulder, Colorado.

Six people spoke at the hearing and another dozen sent emails to the council.

A few business owners who have been selling CBD products that contain THC at lower levels than the new law allows, suggested making changes to the ordinance. As it is now, the ordinance would regulate any product that contains even a trace of THC.

Owners of CBD businesses also thought the ordinance's THC licensing fee of $3,600 was too high. They said other cities have lower fees, such as $500 in St. Cloud.

Jerry Rapp, a Douglas County commissioner, said he had several concerns about allowing stronger THC products. He said it would create problems for law enforcement, ambulance drivers and employees who show up for work high. "You shouldn't come to work on any substance that puts you in la-la land," Rapp said.

Alexandria Police Chief Scott Kent said that during recent inspections of local businesses that sell products containing THC showed that some were not compliant with state law because they contained too high levels of THC and were not packaged correctly.

ADVERTISEMENT

Kent said he felt compelled to talk about the issue, not to argue over THC, but to encourage people to consider the ordinance.

The email responses were mixed. Some said THC products should be allowed and government shouldn't stand in the way of people who want it. Others were opposed to any form of edibles containing THC and said the ordinance should be more strict.

Another emailer said that research has shown that THC helps some people who are dealing with chronic pain and added there's much bigger problems in the city to address.

Two emailers suggested that THC could be a money-maker for the city. Another resident said that THC is mostly harmless and having an ordinance would only promote sales on the black market.

The council voted 5-0 to table the proposed ordinance until the council's next meeting on Sept. 26. Mayor Bobbie Osterberg said the council would consider all the comments and input it received and make changes before taking any action to approve the ordinance.

The proposed ordinance is available on the city's website, https://alexandriamn.city/

Al Edenloff is the editor of the twice-weekly Echo Press. He started his journalism career when he was in 10th grade, writing football and basketball stories for the Parkers Prairie Independent.
What to read next
The developer wants to increase the amount of units from 70 to 101.
More student housing is needed, according to the city and college leaders. The college’s first student housing project, Foundation Hall, has had 100% occupancy in its 150-bed capacity for each year since it opened in 2011.
Wake Up Alexandria is a Chamber networking event that is open to everyone. It offers an opportunity for attendees to learn about the businesses and organizations within the community.
Nets pulled this fall show that an eight-year-long effort to restore lake sturgeon to the waters of Big Stone Lake and Upper Minnesota River watershed is producing results.