Austin City Council approves cannabis ordinance and moratorium at Monday evening work session

The Austin City Council unanimously approved a cannabis ordinance and moratorium as presented to them at a work session following their regularly scheduled meeting at the Austin City Council chambers Monday evening.

Austin City Attorney Craig Byram stated to the council that THC products were recently legalized under state statutes that will be implemented over the next 16-18 months, and he added that the Minnesota Legislature expressly authorized municipalities to put a moratorium in place until January 1st, 2025, which Byram stated will allow municipalities to be thoughtful in crafting local regulations.  

Byram went on to state to the council that the moratorium focuses mainly on retail sales and secondhand smoke, as THC businesses will require a state-issued license to operate, and Byram indicated that those licenses are not expected to be issued prior to January 1st, 2025.  He added that the city may not experience any attempt to establish such a business in Austin before January 1st, 2025, but Byram stated that a moratorium will establish that any such business should wait and see what zoning regulations will look like before solidifying their plans.  As for the secondhand smoke portion of the ordinance, smoking cannabis flower or cannabinoid products will be prohibited in public places and places of work, outdoor dining or bar areas, including sidewalk seating of any food establishments that provide wait staff or any other staff services to patrons in those areas, and within 15 feet of entrances, exits, open windows and ventilation intakes of public places and places of work.  

Byram went on to state to the council that between now and January 1st, 2025, the city will attempt to study and monitor what experiences other cities might have and what best practices to develop.  Byram went on to state that the intent is to ensure that whatever regulations are put in place will be a good fit for Austin and its residents, and he added that the moratorium does not cover things such as CBD products or lower-potency edibles, as the city established a licensing program for those as they were legalized in 2022.