Drinkable weed in Minnesota: A cautionary tale for N.C. Lawmakers | Eastern North Carolina Now | Opening door have consequences

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By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
September 21, 2022

Less than two months after Minnesota legalized the sale of products containing delta-9 THC — the major cannabinoid in marijuana — craft beer breweries are cranking out THC-infused seltzers, while a number of municipalities are temporarily banning the sale of the products to try to figure out how to regulate sales. 

“It’s like it’s the Wild West,” Dan Wellendorf, co-owner of Minneapolis’ Modist Brewing, told Vice Media Group. “We can sell as much as we want to whoever we want.”

While the state already allowed the sale of edibles containing delta-8 THC, some Republican lawmakers said they didn’t realize the full impact of the law they passed in July, opening the door to delta-9, which is reportedly twice as strong.

According to Discover magazine, delta-9’s effects are more rapid and can include “paranoid delusions, mental fog, impaired motor skills, and increased feelings of anxiety.”

“I thought we were doing a technical fix,” Sen. Jim Abeler told the media. He said the bill, sponsored by the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, had a broader impact than expected.

According to the law, the new THC drinks are not supposed to contain alcohol and may include a maximum of 5 mg THC per drink. Drinks must be labeled with lab results certifying the dosage. But what the new law doesn’t include is any kind of enforcement mechanism. It falls under the state’s Board of Pharmacy, a complaint-driven agency focused on pharmaceuticals. 

Waite Park Police Chief Dave Bentrud, whose city is working on a licensing ordinance to try to regulate sales, told the media the new law caught him off guard.

“We really didn’t see it coming or have input on anything before it came along,” he said.

As the law now stands, any manufacturer can produce THC edibles, capsules, tinctures, or drinks. Already rampant violations in labeling have been reported. 

Some municipal officials are considering licensing systems to restrict who can sell the products and where they can be sold. Others are looking at zoning regulations. And some Minnesota state lawmakers say they expect additional laws dealing with licensing, testing and marketing to come to the table when they return to session in January.

“It’s kind of hard to get the toothpaste back in the tube,” Rep. Dave Baker (R-Willmar), told the news site Axios, but he promised “a big conversation early in session next year about what is the right step.”

The Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said Baker’s toothpaste comparison is apt, especially where substances like alcohol and marijuana are involved. 

“This legislation will bring nothing but harm to the state of Minnesota, and reversing laws like these is very difficult, especially when sales are what some people are describing as a gold rush,” Creech said. “Lawmakers will be under intense pressure from makers of these THC-seltzers, some of whom are reporting sales of more than 1,000 cans on the morning they debut.”

He said once substances are legalized for some people or in some form, it’s hard for even the most well-intentioned lawmakers to hold the line.

“It’s always about more access and about stronger versions of drinks or drugs,” Creech said. “What’s happening in Minnesota is surely a cautionary tale that lawmakers in North Carolina can learn from.”

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