Smoke shops waiting for green light to start selling cannabis


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(ABC 6 News) – Saturday marked the first 4/20, an unofficial holiday celebrated by marijuana users, since recreational marijuana was legalized in Minnesota.

Many local businesses have been prepared to start selling cannabis products and are just waiting to get the green light.

“We have it all set up, we have the staff, we have the education in place, we have all of the things ready to go, it’s just we need the license and all of the little things they’re going to require us to have in place too,” Shelly Buchanan, Owner of Hempire Hemp and Vape Shoppe in Rochester, said.

For many owners of smoke shops in Minnesota, the process of getting a license to sell cannabis has been slow and confusing.

Buchanan said the evolving rules have been hard to keep up with, with the most recent change being that they were no longer allowed to sell the cannabis flower or smokeable THC.

“When we first did that math on it, it was about 70% of our business and that was just the smokables,” Buchanan said.

Smoke shops can now only sell THC edibles and drinks, which Buchanan said has been hard on her business.

“There’s a lot of people that we used to see on a pretty regular basis that we just don’t see as often or at all because we don’t have what they’re looking for,” Cash Snyder, Hempire employee, said.

For other businesses, like Jack’s Bottle Shop, the addition of low dosage and hemp derived THC drinks and edibles have brought a boost.

Jack Lester, owner of Jack’s Bottle Shop, said he launched a line of hemp derived THC edibles on Saturday, and hopes he can sell them in dispensaries as they open up in Rochester.

On Thursday, the Minnesota House passed a bill that would allow for pre-approval of retail licenses as early as this summer, but if there are more applicants than available licenses, then it will go to a randomized lottery.

“I’ve never won the lottery on anything before, so I’m not very hopeful to get a license in that manner. I’m not actually sure what they’re going to do behind the scenes to make that happen,” Buchanan said.

The bill prioritizes social equity applicants and, if passed, the pre-approved licenses would be temporary.