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City issuing CBD licenses

Three more businesses in town secure off-sale permission 

by Tom Coombe

Now that there’s an ordinance on the books, Ely businesses are lining up to be licensed to sell cannabis-based products.

Tuesday, council members approved off-sale cannabinoid licenses for Chapman Street Books/Prairie Fire Tobacco, Lucky Seven, and Tamarack Enterprises.

All three licenses are pending the payment of fees and completion of necessary paperwork and background checks.

After considerable debate, the council approved an ordinance that sets licensing provisions and allows for both off-sale and on-sale cannabinoid licensing.

Action by state lawmakers last year made edible cannabinoids legal in Minnesota, and the city’s only control is over licensing sales within the city limits.

Numerous businesses were already selling those products when the council first established a moratorium preventing further expansion and subsequently set provisions for licensing in town.

The on-sale component allows for on-sale consumption and sales of CBD products including beverages for businesses that also operate as a restaurant.

Off-sale licensing gives businesses the opportunity to sell products for off-site consumption.  One business had a license approved at an earlier council meeting and three more were approved this week.

Council member Angela Campbell asked this week if there were other businesses conducting sales that had not yet been licensed.

“How long do they have to get in compliance?” added council member Al Forsman. “I know there are a couple of businesses out there selling (that do not yet have licenses).”

“I don’t think we put a date on compliance,” responded police chief Chad Houde.

Houde noted that his department could follow up to make sure that businesses selling products obtain proper licensure.

Harold Langowski, Ely’s clerk-treasurer and operations director, noted that legislative action last year “allowed them to legally sell.”

“The moratorium was not to expand,” said Langowski.

Campbell also questioned whether the city should limit the number of licenses allowed in town, but Langowski cautioned against that action and compared the licensing to similar provisions for tobacco and alcohol sales.

“The market will dictate the number of licenses applied for,” said Langowski.  “We can take a look at it again later, but right now there is no cap.”

The ordinance was recommended last month by an ad-hoc committee that included mayor Heidi Omerza, Jerome Debeltz and Angela Campbell, but faced some opposition at the council table.

That came largely from  Forsman, who said he opposed the measure and tried, without success, to remove the on-sale provision from the ordinance.

The ordinance establishes procedures for businesses to be licensed for one year, for a 12-month period from Sept. 1-Aug. 31.

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