County commissioners approve interim recreational cannabis, public use ordinances

Published 6:40 pm Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Board has until Jan. 1, 2025 to create established ordinance for the county

The Mower County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday morning passed a pair of ordinances regarding cannabis sales and use in the county.

After being advanced from a previous meeting, the council unanimously adopted both a cannabis interim ordinance and cannabis use ordinance.

Email newsletter signup

The interim ordinance is familiar to those passed by other entities and prohibits the establishment of new or expansion of existing businesses for sale, manufacturing or more of cannabis products until the interim ordinance is repealed by the board or Jan. 1, 2025, whichever comes first.

According to County Administrator Trish Harren Gjersik, the interim ordinance was put into place so that the county can “study the needs of the community, planning and zoning, registration.”

The ordinance establishes that licenses or permits not be issued and planning and zoning applications not be accepted. The ordinance does not apply to the Medical Cannabis Program administered by the Minnesota Department of Health, nor does it apply to continued sales of THC products currently allowed under state statute.

Meanwhile, the use ordinance simply prohibits use of cannabis products in public places or “places of public accommodation unless the premises is an establishment or event licensed to permit on-site consumption of adult-use cannabis flower and adult-use cannabis product.”

It also prohibits use around minors.

“It defines what public space is for the use of cannabis,” Harren Gjersik said.

The cannabis use ordinances mirrors those guidelines set down for tobacco use in the county.

The Jan. 1, 2025 deadline was adopted by the state as an end date for cities and counties to establish lasting and meaningful policies following the passage of recreational use cannabis products during the last legislative session.

As part of the passage of the two policies, Mower County is also required to form a committee looking into the impact of recreational cannabis use and will come back to the board with recommendations of proceeding with long term policy.

Salaries set

Commissioners also set salaries for the upcoming year of elected officials, which includes the county attorney, auditor-treasurer and sheriff.

As part of this process, upon the recommendation of Human Resources Director Kris Kohn, commissioners approved a 6% increase to $25,652 for the board, which includes a $500 year-end bonus for the commissioner chair.

It’s the first time in 15 years that commissioners have voted for an increase.