Albert Lea and Austin enact THC regulations

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(ABC 6 News) – This week, two major cities in Southeast Minnesota have enacted their own rules regulating THC.

This comes after what some are calling abrupt and incomplete guidance from state lawmakers — legalizing the drug. There are a couple of common criticisms of the state’s cannabis law.

One is that the state doesn’t require a license to sell hemp-derived THC or CBD. The second is that the law restricts people under 21 from buying the product, but it doesn’t restrict use or possession.

That’s where Austin and Albert Lea stepped in.

“Keeping it out of the hand of those under the age of 21,” said Albert Lea City Manager Ian Rigg.

“Making a space for retailers to understand exactly what the various rules would be,” said Austin Police Chief David McKichan.

In both cities, people now must have a license to sell THC products. In Austin — the same goes for CBD.

McKichan says their goal with licensing is to keep track of who is selling cannabis products in the city, hopefully leading to the safer and more trustworthy products.

“Most of our licensees are already in the tobacco space as well, so they understand we do compliance checks,” McKichan said.

Also in both cities: people under 21 can not use or possess THC products. These laws will be enforced similarly to tobacco and liquor laws.

“We’ve had a mixed review. We had a few people equate this to the opioid epidemic. And we’ve had other people equate it to alcohol,” said Rigg of the community’s reaction.

Jeff Brinkman is the president of Superior Cannabis Company in Austin. He worked with the state and the city on THC laws.

“When you’re formulating those products and selling them to your neighbors, you worked on those products so that’s a good feeling,” Brinkman said.

With THC gummies legal, his business thrives.

“Overall people have been doing their research and they really know what they like. And number one by far is gummies,” he said.