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Alexandria leaders ponder new law legalizing THC edibles

Alexandria City Attorney: "It caught everybody by surprise...There is zero guidance on how to make it work."

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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
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ALEXANDRIA — A new state law that legalizes THC — a psychoactive component of cannabis that gets users high — in food and beverages has city leaders throughout Minnesota scratching their heads over how to regulate it.

At Monday night's Alexandria City Council meeting, City Attorney Tom Jacobson said there's nothing in the law that addresses key questions such as who can sell THC products and where.

Jacobson said Alexandria, and other cities, will have to work out how the new law will affect city employees, zoning, licensing, public safety, law enforcement and more.

"They can legalize it but you can't drive under the influence of it," Jacobson said.

Last week, a group of about 30 leaders from large and small cities from the Minnesota Association of City Attorneys, which is supported by the League of Minnesota Cities, met to discuss the topic and it drew many more questions than solutions, Jacobson said. They plan to meet again this Friday.

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Jacobson said a frustrating part of the new law was that city leaders "were not invited to the table" while the legislation was being considered.

"It caught everybody by surprise," Jacobson said. "There is zero guidance on how to make it work."

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Tom Jacobson

Mayor Bobbie Osterberg asked Jacobson if it was possible for the city to simply not allow THC products in the city.

Jacobson said that technically speaking, it may be possible but it could present border enforcement problems if the city didn't allow it but the county does. He added that's another avenue the city should explore.

Because of all the confusion and questions, Jacobson said he expects the Legislature to clean up and clarify the law at its next session.

Until then, a lot of questions are up in the air.

THC was legalized July 1 under a new law regulating hemp.

City wraps up eminent domain work for 18th Ave.

Jacobson also updated the council on the city's use of eminent domain to acquire property for the 18th Avenue reconstruction project.

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He said the city was final able to get the certificate to transfer ownership of a sliver of land on the northeast corner of the parking lot at O'Reilly Auto Parts to the city as a "public necessity."

The $8.3 million project will reconstruct and realign 18th Avenue between Nokomis Street and Fillmore Street. It will also reconstruct Hawthorne Street between 17th and 18th Avenue, and Jefferson Street between 12th and 18th Avenue, and add a right turn lane on Broadway.

It will also replace old waterlines, outdated sewer system, and eliminates a lift station that would need to be replaced soon.

As part of the project, the city has been trying to buy the land for months but now the purchase will be complete, according to Jacobson.

Silver Maple Investments rents the property to several tenants, including O'Reilly Auto Parts, Alex Bearing and Farm Supply, J.G. Hair Care, Alexandria Title Company, Kaleidoscope Business Services, Activecare Chiropractic Clinic and Homegrown Nutrition.

Election judges appointed

The council appointed 72 election judges for the Aug. 9 primary election and the Nov. 8 general election.

Minnesota’s election laws require that those serving as election judges to be appointed by the council at least 25 days before the election.

The judges are also required to complete two hours of training.

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City buys second wetland credit

The council approved a second wetland credit purchase for the Highway 29 sidewalk extension project.

Wetland credits are purchased from existing wetland banks.

At its June 27 meeting, the council purchased 0.74 acres of wetland credits from EIP Credit Company for $17,750, with application fees included.

The second agreement will purchase 0.3113 acres of wetland credits for $13,867. These credits are more expensive because of Department of Natural Resources’ requirements to purchase the credits from a specific wetland bank service area that’s located close to the sidewalk project’s location.

The project will extend the sidewalk from 34th Avenue to 44th Avenue. The total cost is estimated at just under $500,000. A local partnership program grant of $410,000 will cover the bulk of the cost and the rest, $89,012, will be paid through municipal state aid funds. The wetland purchases will be covered under the local partnership program.

Bids have not been called yet for the sidewalk project. Schoonhoven said the bid market is not good right now and there is a shortage in one of the components of concrete.

City approves license for food truck

Blowin’ Smoke BBQ and Catering received a mobile food truck license.

The business is owned by Kyle Brundage of Morris. The required certificate of liability insurance and a Minnesota Department of Health license have been submitted.

In another licensing action, the council issued a temporary, four-day on-sale liquor license that allows the Alexandria Elks Lodge to sell beer at the Douglas County Fair on Aug. 17-20.

The application also requires approval from the Minnesota Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division.

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.
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