The Pine City Council approved a moratorium on the sale of cannabis during its meeting on Wednesday.
The moratorium is designed as an interim hold while the city looks into the zoning regulations and any ordinance changes that need to be made before cannabis can be sold within Pine City limits.
The decision followed a contentious public hearing where residents voiced concerns over language regarding individuals in item A of Section 3 of the ordinance, which reads:
No individual, establishment, organization, or business may engage in the retail sale, wholesale sale, testing, growing, cultivating, manufacturing, transporting, delivery of or distribution of Cannabis Products, including products using any part of the plant of the genus Cannabis plant; containing cannabis concentrate; infused with cannabinoids (including but not limited to tetrahydrocannabinol); extracted or derived from cannabis plants or cannabis flower; synthetically derived cannabinoids, or lower potency hemp edibles that contain more than 0.3% of Tetrahydrocannabinol, for twelve (12) months from the effective date of this ordinance.
"It says 'individuals' over and over again, and I get that you all might understand that," said resident Aaron Bombard. "What happens in 2024 when we have a different city council or a different mayor or a different city administrator, who feels they can enforce that?"
Bombard called for the city to add language to the interim ordinance that would affirm the resident's rights to consume, grow, and possess cannabis.
During the discussion, City Administrator Scott Hildebrand did clarify that the goal of the moratorium was to stop sales, not the personal use outlined by state statute. He noted that in the paragraph in question had language that specifically referred to the sale or distribution of cannabis. It does not affect personal use. "What this ordinance does is, it is a temporary liability on businesses. The city will choose how it's going to license its businesses, zoning, and things like that. This does not affect you personally. If you are on the street, if you are in your personal home, this does not apply to you," Hildebrand said.
Other residents who spoke raised concerns over the impacts on other areas of the cannabis business that the moratorium would have.
Dan Swanson said, "There is huge growth opportunity economically here and not just in the growth and cultivation of said cannabis. There are so many support industries that go along with it - machinery and manufacturing to process, food processing facilities, packaging facilities, there is so much more."
Currently, the state is not expected to issue licenses to sell marijuana until 2025, while the Office of Cannabis Management is set up. Both council members Gina Pettie and Kyle Palmer felt that a moratorium would be redundant since licenses cannot be issued to sell at this time.
Ultimately, the moratorium was passed with extra language to reaffirm a resident's rights for personal use in a vote of 3 to 2 with Pettie and Palmer voting against it.
The measure is scheduled to sunset by Aug. 2, 2024; however, the council said they can repeal it before that date if they feel ready.