August 18, 2023 at 1:40 p.m.
Taylors Falls wades into four hour meeting
The City of Taylors Falls one year ago placed a moratorium on low dose, hemp derived products being sold in town. With the moratorium scheduled to expire August 13 2023— the council Monday Aug. 14 was poised to take action adopting a new ordinance specific to low dose, hemp derived products.
Council reviewed a suggested ordinance that came from the planning commission.
The owner of an existing shop in town was particularly interested in the outcome, and owners of the old jail bed and breakfast also have announced they want to open a low dose hemp derived products enterprise. They were all there.
Unresolved regulations related to hemp derived business permits, however, were regularly intermingled with the mood-altering cannabis sales and licensing, which were only just made legal as of August 1 this month. “Sales” of marijuana are not happening until the Office of Cannabis Management is up and running to license operations. Indigenous or independent nation territory has been allowed to regulate their own sales, and two Minnesota tribes have begun retailing marijuana in recent days.
Council focus unfortunately wandered into legislative action (HF100) which opened the door on legalizing recreational THC possession, use and sales. The city ordinance conditions for low dose hemp derived operations has nothing to do with recreational THC containing cannabis dispensaries, but that didn’t stop Council member Troy Aanonsen, who had the most difficulty staying on-task. He repeatedly stated during this meeting the legislature enacting the unrelated HF100 was trying to “distract’ Taylors Falls and other cities from what they really “..should be doing.” He frequently conflated stipulations in HF100 with discussions on the hemp-derived ordinance.
Mayor Weiberg stressed multiple times that if this city moratorium-related action results in Taylors Falls creating a permit for the CBD-related product sales, this must not be construed as any future approval for later adding selling recreational marijuana.
The council did adopt a process for “non-intoxicating” hemp derived sales, in the downtown retail zone, that does not have setbacks from public properties at this time.
There was a lot of debate about the historic site, the “Pioneer Schoolhouse” and if it meets the definition of a “school” and if council can put a restrictive setback from the parcel—basically eliminating the plans for the old jail building. B & B owner Larry Long, who has proposed a second CBD hemp-derived shop in addition to Buck Duncan’s on mainstreet, offered to not be open the brief time Pioneer School is housing a summer old tyme one-room schoolhouse program for kids, if the city wants.
Council member Tim Grote stated the whole concept of setback is too “aggressive” in his opinion. The product is non-intoxicating. What are we protecting people from, he wondered. These shops sell balms, salves, and low dose edibles. Grote continued, saying there are alcohol sales on the riverboats in the St. Croix park, there are bars not far from the main street library. Non-intoxicating hemp derived products are not regulated by the state, on par with THC, so why is the city even looking at creating product-free zones?
The planning commission recommended a 200 foot setback from public properties, for the low dose non-intoxicating products.
This was deleted.
The fee schedule was amended to include the permit application at $300 and a BCA contracted background check will cost an applicant $100. There are a variety of compliance conditions, such as timeframe for opening the shop from when permits are approved, as well.
** The agenda item for designating smoking areas where marijuana can later be used openly was tabled. (Right now state law allows use basically on private property, you can possess a certain amount on your person in public.) Council hopes to tackle this at a September meeting.
Also not acted on was Council member Aanonsen’s motion to “declare” the lot on main street north of the Drive-In as open space. He got no second and it died.
Taylors Falls purchased the property when MNDOT relocated its highway maintenance facility. The county HRA/EDA loaned the city the money at zero interest, for the acquisition and related site expenses. The agreement was with the understanding the city’s intent was to get a tax-paying business into town, but the lot has not sold. The parcel remains on the market with the council making no change in its status.