MANKATO, Minn. — The Mankato City Council voted this week to place a temporary pause on cannabis sales within city limits for up to a year, becoming one of the first cities in Minnesota to make such a move as the state prepares to legalize recreational marijuana on Aug. 1.
"I think Mankato is experiencing what all 864 cities across Minnesota are going to experience: What does it look like for us?" Council President Mike Laven said. "We said, 'Let's take this pause and make some good decisions.'"
Under a little-known provision of the state legislature's cannabis bill, local municipalities have the power to temporarily restrict cannabis sales until Jan. 1, 2025, to give them time to study the issue and craft local regulations. Although the new state law will not allow cities to permanently ban cannabis, municipalities will have some authority to determine how many cannabis shops should operate per population and how close they should be located to schools, parks and day care facilities.
Mankato's moratorium does not impact THC sales, nor does it prevent residents 21 and older from using or possessing marijuana when the new law takes effect Aug. 1. It merely prevents the sale of cannabis by businesses in the city for up to a year. Council members have said they may lift the moratorium before the one-year mark, depending on how quickly they can work to enact local ordinances.
Furthermore, the moratorium may not have a major practical impact anyway, given that state agencies have said it could take up to a year to issue business licenses to sell adult-use cannabis.
"This gives our community an opportunity to engage as a whole," Laven said, "on what we would like to see done on cannabis sales as we move forward."
However, some opponents say the moratorium creates uncertainty for entrepreneurs looking to break into the cannabis business in Mankato. Chris Collins, who is consulting with "Gilby's Original," said his clients want to open the state's first craft cannabis microbusiness and had a property picked out in Mankato.
"Our plan was to actually be kind of close to a craft brewery and make a craft corridor," Collins said. "Unfortunately, with the moratorium in place, those plans will have to get put on delay."
Collins said he supports strong oversight of state licensing requirements and is hopeful the city of Mankato will lift the moratorium on cannabis sales before the one-year mark. If all goes as plan, he hopes Gilby's Original could be selling product by next summer.
"We're just trying to find a way to pivot," Collins said, "so that we can make a business work when there's going to be a large rush to be first-to-market."
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