City Council passes temporary moratorium on THC products

 City Council passes temporary moratorium on THC products

 Richfield, Minn. (October 28, 2022) – On Tuesday, October 25, the city council adopted a one year moratorium on the sale of edible cannabinoid products within the city limits. The moratorium will allow staff time to consult with stakeholders and develop a licensing program for vendors within the city.

The moratorium was approved as part of an interim ordinance, which will also authorize staff to study the sale of cannabis products. It was approved with a 4 -1 vote, with councilmember Sean Hayford Oleary voting against the action.

“While I respect the concerns shared by staff and my council colleagues, I do not believe the moratorium is an effective tool to address our concerns,” urged Hayford Oleary. “This will not stop the consumption of the products, as they can be easily purchased online or in neighboring communities, and will instead have negative impacts on our local businesses and residents seeking these products.”

The moratorium could make it a misdemeanor offence to sell cannabis products to the public within the city limits. Exceptions are made for the sale of medical cannabis or non-edible hemp products that are already deemed lawful to sell. The moratorium will go into effect on December 3, 2022.

Complications began last summer when new legislation went into effect which allowed for the widespread sale of edible cannabinoid products with no more than five milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per serving, and no more than 50 milligrams of THC per package. Under the legislation, products can only be sold to persons who are at least 21 years old, and include restriction around the packaging and marketing to discourage use by children.

“The due diligence wasn’t done at the state level, and was instead passed down to local government with very few tools or information,” concluded Mayor Maria Regan Gonzalez. “Because of the unknowns, I see the moratorium as the most prudent way to give our staff time to research the issue and establish a licensing process. I hope that this is not a full-year moratorium, and that we are able to get something in place early next year.”

Products with higher concentrations of THC are already on the market and in stores locally, with little to no enforcement measures that can be taken in an efficient and timely way.

“Unfortunately, it was pushed down to local government to look at regulation, licensing and compliance,” explained Police Chief Jay Henthorne. “Once we have a licensing system in place, similar to what we have for alcohol and tobacco, it will give us the ability to license the businesses, do compliance checks, and enforce illegal complaints on a local level.”

According to staff, the soonest a licensing structure would be available for approval would be in early 2023.