The Duluth City Council voted Monday night (August 14) on a measure to create regulations that would restrict certain locations in the city where recreational marijuana could be consumed.

In mid-July, Duluth City Councilors Arik Forsman, Roz Randorf, and Terese Tomanek set forth a proposal that would limit locations where marijuana products could be consumed, specifically focusing on public parks, public transportation, and other public spaces.

After discussions with members of the public and other local stakeholders, the proposed ordinance went up for a vote, passing by an 8-1 margin, with Councilor At Large Azrin Awal being the only nay vote.

With the passage of the new rules within the city, here's what it means for residents and visitors:

What places in Duluth are you not allowed to consume marijuana products?

While the original premise of this ordinance specifically spoke to smoking and vaping, the passed measure bans consumption of marijuana/cannabis products "by smoking or chewing", which would theoretically include cannabis edibles and beverages as well as chewable tobacco products.

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While that would make sense in many of the newly-banned areas (including city parks, where alcohol is also related), it raises some questions about bars and restaurants or other establishments that might offer beverages or products consumed via eating. These venues, however, would need to adhere to other licensing rules, similar to those in place for alcohol sales.

The primary focus of the ordinance does emphasize smoking and vaping, however. Here are the spaces the ordinance bans consumption:

  • Anywhere smoking is prohibited by the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act
    • This includes:
      • Offices and workspaces, work vehicles
      • Retail stores
      • Common areas in apartments and hotels/motels
      • Auditoriums & arenas
      • Daycare facilities
      • Healthcare facilities and clinics
      • Education facilities
      • Restaurants & bars
  • Inside or within 15 feet of any Duluth Transit Authority transit shelter
  • Within 100 feet of the nearest property line of any medical facility
  • Within any public park, unless a permit has been issued for the area
  • Within the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial, except as permitted by Minnesota Statute §144.4167, Subdivision 2

In short, this pretty much aligns the consumption of marijuana products with rules about tobacco/nicotine smoking and vaping.

What are the other implications of this city council action?

The ordinance also amends verbiage related to smoking and vaping of tobacco and nicotine products and aligns it with the rules noted above and cleaning up some "redundant language" in current city code on the subject. You can read the full ordinance here.

What are the penalties for violating Duluth's new marijuana ordinance?

Following discussion, the fines for violating the ordinance were set as follows:

  • $25 for a first offense
  • $50 for a second offense
  • $75 for subsequent offenses

*All offenses also include a $90 court fee.

These fines are subject to change, however. Councilor Hobbs pointed out that these new fines would be lesser than those for consumption/possession of alcohol in city parks.

With this observation, the council will explore making adjustments to align the fines at a future meeting.

When does Duluth's marijuana ordinance go into effect?

The ordinance is set to go into effect 30 days from its passage, which makes Wednesday, September 13 the start date for the new ordinance.

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