No pot in public places
by Tom Coombe
On the same day that recreational marijuana became legal in Ely, city officials took action to curb where it may be used.
With a unanimous vote, the council passed the first reading of an ordinance that bans the use of cannabinoid products including marijuana in all public places and public property.
That means any place open to or accessible by the public, except on premises licensed by the state to permit on-site consumption.
It also bans marijuana use in all city buildings and property, including parking lots, parks, golf courses, pathways and trails, city sidewalks and city equipment including motor vehicles.
Those found guilty of violating the ordinance, which remains subject to a second reading and council vote, will be cited with a petty misdemeanor.
City Attorney Kelly Klun briefed the council about both the ordinance and the rationale for it, just prior to the vote.
“As we know the state has legalized recreational marijuana,” said Klun. “However cities do not need to allow that use in a public spot, public places or public property. So it’s my understanding it’s the council’s intention to move forward and limit that use, so it would be personal use at home.”
Earlier this year, the Minnesota Legislature passed landmark legislation, legalizing recreational marijuana statewide.
Minnesota is the 23rd state in the nation to do so.
The legislation included provisions, however, that allow local governments to set limits on marijuana use in their communities, including curbs on public consumption.
Cities around the state are weighing ordinances identical or similar to the one Ely passed this week, according to Klun.
“There are other cities throughout the state that are taking very similar action tonight or this week,” said Klun.
Council member Adam Bisbee asked “is this a temporary ordinance?”
“It’s permanent for now,” Klun responded. “Of course the council can always change or revoke any ordinance.”
She added “until we get a better grasp of how this will play out, this is a first step... It may eventually get rolled into a bigger ordinance.”
Also Tuesday, council members heard that the city will soon be down one police officer.
Ryan Mahoney, who has served on the job just under a year, submitted his resignation, which was approved by the council Tuesday.
The council also authorized city officials to post for a new officer.
Mahoney’s last day on the job will be Aug. 11.
Council members also granted the Dorothy Molter Museum’s request for temporary liquor licenses to operate a beer garden during the 5K Glow Run and Ely Marathon events on Sept. 22 and Sept. 23.
The council also granted the renewal of numerous liquor licenses for the next year, pending the submission of proper paperwork and payment of mandatory fees.