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Several Minnesota cities are considering banning smoking marijuana in public ahead of the drug’s legalization next month.
On August 1, recreational marijuana will become legal across Minnesota.
In the meantime, at least six cities are considering making it a petty misdemeanor to smoke the drug in public places like parks or on sidewalks.
Inver Grove Heights, Apple Valley, Prior Lake, Duluth, Rochester, and Lakeville are all considering such ordinances.
Lakeville Mayor Luke Hellier worries that people smoking pot downtown could chill the growth his city has seen recently.
“We’re the seventh-largest city in the Twin Cities, the 30th fastest growing city in the country. So in my opinion, we’re doing something right,” Hellier said.
“The last thing I want is a nuisance of marijuana smoke or vaping in the downtown that could prevent people from wanting to come to these businesses,” he said.
The Lakeville mayor said an ordinance banning public pot smoking would operate on resident complaints.
“A business would have to file a complaint, call the city or the police department, say, ‘Hey, someone’s smoking outside of my restaurant or out front of my business, and it’s causing a nuisance,’ and so then, we would come and cite that person,” Hellier said.
State Representative Zack Stephenson noted that the new state law leaves it up to cities whether they want to restrict marijuana smoking in public places. He compared city ordinances that would ban such activity to rules banning public alcohol consumption.
A sponsor of the bill said the bill’s lack of certain public smoking restrictions was intentional.
“We wanted to put as few restrictions on it as we could, understanding that cities could do more,” said state Senator Lindsey Port, who sponsored the legalization bill in the state Senate.
Supporters of public weed smoking bans have pointed out that certain situations would be difficult to navigate without a ban.
“Nobody wants to have their kids at a park with a group of people smoking weed right next to you,” Jake Willenbring, an employee at a Lakeville CBD store, told WCCO News. “I just don’t know how possible that would be to keep it respectful for everybody on a large scale.”
In Prior Lake, the city council already voted last week to ban cannabis businesses, as well as using marijuana in public, which includes smoking, vaping, and edibles. Using marijuana in public will be a petty misdemeanor in the city.
Neither Minneapolis nor St. Paul has addressed the issue of smoking marijuana in public yet.
Minnesota’s new legal weed law will not allow people to smoke inside the vast majority of public places and workplaces thanks to the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act, which was already on the books.
In recent years, many states have moved to legalize recreational marijuana, including New York, Illinois, Washington, Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Oregon, Massachusetts, and Montana.
New York City expected to pull in $56 million in tax revenue in its first year of legal weed, but instead is losing millions from anemic legal marijuana sales while an illegal market thrives.