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ELY- The Ely City Council approved the first reading of an edible cannabinoid ordinance at its March 21 meeting. The proposed ordinance contained a surprise: it included a provision for the …
ELY- The Ely City Council approved the first reading of an edible cannabinoid ordinance at its March 21 meeting. The proposed ordinance contained a surprise: it included a provision for the “on-sale” purchase of edible cannabinoid products at a limited number of businesses such as restaurants.
While the council gave the new ordinance its first reading, it won’t be the last, and changes may still be in store. “We can change this between readings,” Mayor Heidi Omerza reminded the council after the vote to approve the first reading, “and we can change it when we discover what the public says about it.”
No matter what is currently in the ordinance, there are several opportunities to advocate for change in what was proposed at the March 21 meeting. The public hearing for the cannabinoid ordinance is scheduled for 5 p.m. on April 4.
Ely’s ad hoc committee to study the edible cannabinoid issue surprised everyone when their proposed ordinance included licenses for both “on-sale” and “off-sale” purchases. On-sale refers to buying an edible cannabinoid and consuming it at the business where it was purchased. Off-sale is the purchase of one of these products for consumption elsewhere.
The ad hoc committee was set up at the Feb. 21 city council meeting and included council members Angela Campbell and Jerome Debeltz, as well as the mayor and members of the Ely Police Department.
City attorney Kelly Klun explained that the ad hoc committee decided that prohibiting on-sale purchases was “too restrictive” given the number of restaurants that have inquired about selling Minnesota-legal cannabinoid beverages. As a result, the proposed ordinance contains a restrictive provision to allow restaurants, clubs, hotels, bowling centers, and congressionally chartered veterans’ organizations to sell edible cannabinoids for consumption on their premises to “members and bona fide guests.”
For both the on-sale and off-sale licenses, each application to sell within Ely will be considered before the city council for approval.
The proposed ordinance prohibits the issuing of any license to a business which is “on a lot immediately adjacent to a lot upon which there is any public school or church structure.”
A lot across a street or across an alley from a public school or church is not defined as immediately adjacent. The ordinance does not have any prohibitions regarding businesses next door to private schools and private pre-schools and childcare facilities.
In a provision that parallels laws about alcohol, possession of an opened edible cannabinoid products package or container is not allowed by a pedestrian “on public property,” in a public park, or on a street or highway. An opened container or package is also not allowed while operating or riding in a private vehicle.
Licenses to sell edible cannabinoids will be issued only to those 21 or older. Employees at businesses with licenses must be at least 18 in order to sell the products. A business must display its license to sell edible cannabinoids where the public can see it.
Businesses cannot sell any cannabinoid products to anyone under 21. The products must be kept behind a counter or bar accessible only to employees. Edible cannabinoids cannot be sold in Ely from a vending machine.
There are provisions in the ordinance for the police department to use decoys between the ages of 17 and 20 to attempt to buy edible cannabinoids as part of its powers to inspect businesses and determine their compliance to the city’s cannabinoid regulations. The ordinance also states that consent to inspection by the police “without a warrant for searches and seizures” is a condition of receiving a cannabinoid license in the city.
The city council designated itself as the “hearing officer” for the purpose of determining of a business has violated the ordinance. The fines for violations range from $300 to $2,000. Violations will also result in either temporary or permanent revocation of a cannabinoid license, depending on whether the offense is a first or repeated violation.
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