Council approves ordinance restricting Cannabis use in public places

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Council approves ordinance restricting Cannabis use in public places

It is now illegal to smoke or vape cannabis products in public places in Albert Lea after action from the Albert Lea City Council on Monday.

The council during its regular meeting approved the final reading of an ordinance that expands no smoking in public places to include cannabis, aligning it with what is already in place for tobacco.

The ordinance includes restaurants, bars, food or liquor establishments, retail stores and other commercial establishments, educational facilities or public schools, hospitals, nursing homes, common areas of rental apartment buildings, city parks and other places owned by the city, such as City Arena and City Hall.

During the 2023 legislative session, a new law was passed that legalized adult-use of cannabis in Minnesota starting Aug. 1. The law was silent on whether cannabis can be smoked in public places other than public places governed by the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act.

While the law does not specifically authorize the use of cannabis in public places, it does not create any penalty for use in a public place other than those governed by the Indoor Air Act. If a city wanted an enforcement mechanism to prevent its use in public spaces, it would have to pass an ordinance stating such.

With the change, the ordinance now applies to “any cannabis flower, or cannabis product that can be inhaled through the means of smoking or an electronic device.”  The action will be enforceable as a misdemeanor.

City Manager Ian Rigg said at this point, the law only applies only to methods that give off second-hand smoke and does not include drinks, though he noted he expected further resolutions to come before the council to better define those uses.

The ordinance states use is prohibited within 25 feet of entrances, exits, open windows and ventilation intakes of public spaces.

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Region: Minnesota

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