Bemidji City Council Drops Ordinance Prohibiting Marijuana Use in Public
The Bemidji City Council dropped a proposed ordinance that would restrict the use of marijuana products in public spaces at their latest meeting.
The ordinance would have prohibited the public use of marijuana products with exceptions to private homes or property otherwise not accessible to the public.
Issues some councilors brought up during the meeting with the proposed ordinance included whether they were acting prematurely. Councilors mentioned how their constituents have not come forward with any concerns regarding public use at this time.
“We’re creating an ordinance that isn’t necessarily necessary because there hasn’t been an established problem,” said Ward 4 Councilor Emelie Rivera. “We’re creating an ordinance for something that hasn’t been identified as a problem yet.”
Another problem councilors mentioned would be the restrictive language of the ordinance and the penalty that could result in a petty misdemeanor or fine of up to $100.
“I’m not comfortable with the smell,” said Councilor At-Large Audrey Thayer. “It has to do with tobacco smell, cannabis smell, I just don’t like the smell. But, I also feel that this ordinance is too restrictive.”
“It’s potentially going to be a nuisance to people, as far as odor goes,” followed Bemidji Mayor Jorge Prince. “I personally have no interest in trying to legislate how low-potency hemp edibles and all of these kinds of things, I don’t know how in the world you ever would. I would be comfortable with this ordinance if it were amended to remove those edibles … and limit this to smoke and to vaping.”
The council voted to drop the ordinance at its second reading in a 4 to 3 vote. Mayor Prince and Councilors Johnson and Peterson were in dissent.