Bemidji City Council Begins Discussions Around Marijuana Regulations
Minnesota’s legalization of recreational marijuana is set to take effect on August 1, and many local governments are discussing what measures to take.
Bemidji’s city council started talking about the topic at June 26th’s work session. Among the points covered, the most pressing matter was public use.
State statute allows cities to make the use of cannabis products unlawful in a public space. While the law could apply to any cannabis product, councilors shared concerns over smoking and the risks.
“We aren’t going to get the issue of smell to correct the order no matter where we are, whether it’s cigarettes or whether it’s recreational marijuana, it’s going to be there,” said Councilor At-Large Audrey Thayer.
Councilors did point out if Bemidji did implement the petty misdemeanor and $300 fine, this action could disproportionately affect low-income people.
“My concern with criminalizing [public use], even if it’s a petty misdemeanor, is more often than not, the individuals who will be cited are individuals who are going to be lower income, who don’t have their own property,” said Ward 4 Councilor Emelie Rivera. “They can only go into public spaces.”
Minnesota’s Clean Indoor Air Act limits smoking in public places like restaurants, offices and transportation. Under statute, the city could further these limitations to outdoor spaces like public parks. The city council will continue discussions during a future session as ordinances are drafted.