As new Crookston store sells hemp-derived THC products, city leaders question how to enforce state law
John Reitmeier, one of the owners of Canna Corners, opened the store in downtown Crookston on Tuesday, Aug. 2.
CROOKSTON – An entrepreneur in Crookston is among the first in northwest Minnesota to open a store under a new Minnesota law that allows the sale and consumption of edibles containing small amounts of hemp-derived THC, the chemical in cannabis that can cause a high.
John Reitmeier, one of the owners of Canna Corners, opened the store in downtown Crookston on Aug. 2. Though it's complying with the new Minnesota law, the store has already caused a stir among city leaders, who are tasked with figuring out how the city of Crookston will regulate the new industry.
Canna Corners is the retail location for parent company CannaRHx LLC, said Reitmeier, which has been in business for four years, and has Minnesota and federal hemp licenses to grow and process hemp.
The Minnesota law allowing the sale and consumption of hemp-derived THC went into effect on July 1, and allows people 21 and older to buy food and beverage products containing small amounts of THC. The legislation was wrapped into a larger health policy bill, and Reitmeier said the bill’s passing was a surprise to many.
“The people who had a part in writing the bill were surprised that it passed this time,” he said. “They just thought they were just taking a run at things.”
Under the law, consumers can buy packages of food and beverage products containing up to 50 milligrams of hemp-derived THC in 5-milligram servings. Hemp is considered cannabis that contains 0.3% percent or less THC by dry weight. The products also need to be labeled in a way that indicates the contents are not for children.
Democratic-Farmer-Labor lawmakers opted not to build in a provision creating a state board to regulate the sale of hemp-derived THC products , worried it might block the bill’s path forward. This leaves local governments, like cities and counties, to make sure sellers are complying with the law.
“There really is no particular guidance on how you deal with these and all of the issues involved in regulating this type of business,” said Charles “Corky” Reynolds, Crookston’s interim city administrator.
He noticed Canna Corners on a recent walk through Crookston, and found neither the Minnesota State Legislature nor the League of Minnesota Cities had resources suggesting how cities could regulate the sale of hemp-derived THC. Reynolds says this leaves local governments with only two options — enact a moratorium on the sale of hemp-derived THC products to stop sales or allow a store like Canna Corners to continue with business.
At the Crookston City Council meeting on Aug. 12, the council discussed Canna Corners and the possibility of passing an emergency ordinance to enact a moratorium, but ultimately decided 7-1 to continue to allow the sale of hemp-derived THC products in Crookston. Reynolds said he is now tasked with researching and eventually proposing an ordinance for the town about how it will enforce the new state law.
“The timeline, I can’t tell you. It’s not a simple thing to do,” he said. “Certainly the alcohol ordinances and state law will be helpful, but they’re not the same."
Reitmeier says he is open to working with the city to figure out how to move forward with an ordinance.
“We are law-abiding citizens who want to do good, and we are not, as we’ve been referred to, illicit drug dealers or people dealing in controlled substances. Neither one of those descriptions are accurate” he said.
While the city does not have an ordinance in place to regulate the sale of hemp-derived THC products, Reitmeier says customers can rest assured that the products at Canna Corners are safe and of good quality. The store sells two hemp-derived THC products, infused chocolates and infused gummies, both of which are made by Crested River, a company in Morgan, Minnesota, in the southern part of the state. The hemp used to produce the THC is grown and processed in Minnesota, and samples are sent to a lab in Colorado for testing.
“Colorado, of course, is a multi-year marijuana state, and so we know that our products have the right strength, have the right effectiveness, are clean of pesticides, herbicides, chemicals, like glyphosate, which is Roundup, and also heavy metals,” he said.
He described the packaging of products in the store as “medicinally sterile,” with information about its dosage, authenticity, manufacturer and the disclaimer that it is not intended to treat any medical conditions.
The store also sells a variety of CBD products, a chemical in cannabis that cannot cause a high.
Reitmeier says his family has an agricultural history in the region. In the 1880s, his family was among the first to grow sugar beets, and later was one of the first to grow sunflowers, he said. He hopes someday, he can tell his grandchildren that he was a pioneer in the hemp industry.
“I’m just happy and privileged to think that I’m just like my great grandparents in the turn of the century, like my parents in the 1960s and now ... I am part of a new, exciting agricultural development,” he said.