Officials in Duluth, Minnesota this week approved an ordinance that will ban smoking marijuana in all city parks.
The passage of the measure came about two weeks after a new state law allowing recreational cannabis use for adults aged 21 and older took effect on August 1.
Minnesota Public Radio reports that the newly passed ordinance “also bans vaping marijuana, and extends a ban on smoking tobacco to all city parks,” although consuming “cannabis in other forms, such as gummies, is still allowed.”
Previously, according to MPR, smoking pot “was only forbidden in select parks.”
The ordinance was approved by the Duluth City Council on Monday by a vote of 8-1.
“I want to protect clean air for folks in our public spaces and our parks,” said Duluth City Council Vice President Roz Randorf, as quoted by Minnesota Public Radio. “When you’re smoking in public and in parks and in buildings, we really have to think of those folks that are around us that could have health conditions, pre-existing conditions, our youth.”
The lone councilmember to vote against the proposal was Azrin Awal.
“We’ve heard [from] constituents, that they’re worried about smoking taking place in sidewalks. But if they’re not able to go into a public facility, if they can’t smoke in their multifamily or public building, and they can’t go into a public park, what’s left is our sidewalks and streets … where there’s more traffic,” Awal said at Monday’s meeting, according to Minnesota Public Radio.
According to MPR, the city council “tabled an amendment to reduce the maximum $300 fine for violating the ban, but appeared close to agreeing to a new fee structure.”
Minnesota became the 23rd state to legalize adult-use cannabis in May, when Democratic Gov. Tim Walz signed a bill into law.
“We’ve known for too long that prohibiting the use of cannabis hasn’t worked. By legalizing adult-use cannabis, we’re expanding our economy, creating jobs, and regulating the industry to keep Minnesotans safe,” Walz said after signing the legislation. “Legalizing adult-use cannabis and expunging or resentencing cannabis convictions will strengthen communities. This is the right move for Minnesota.”
Walz’s lieutenant governor, Peggy Flanagan, echoed those sentiments.
“Legalizing adult-use cannabis is about keeping our communities safe, advancing justice for Minnesotans, and investing in a strong economic future,” said Flanagan. “Prohibiting the use of cannabis hasn’t worked and has disproportionately harmed communities of color across the state. By expunging nonviolent cannabis convictions, we are removing the barriers that prevent thousands of Minnesotans from fully returning to work, to their communities, and to their lives. This is how we make safer communities.”
Although the law officially took effect on August 1, empowering adults to use and possess cannabis, sales are not expected to begin until sometime next year.
An analysis prepared by the nationally recognized cannabis firm Vicente LLP suggested that recreational cannabis sales in Minnesota could generate as much as $1.5 billion annually by 2029.
“Minnesota stands to attract a significant amount of tourist traffic from neighboring states like Iowa and North Dakota, as consumers venture to purchase Minnesota’s cannabis products,” said Brian Vicente, a founding partner at the firm.
New York, which legalized recreational cannabis for adults in 2022, also adopted a measure banning the smoking of pot in state-owned parks and beaches.
“Smoking is a dangerous habit that affects not only the smoker but everyone around them, including families and children enjoying our state’s great public places,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said after signing the legislation into law last summer. “I’m proud to sign this legislation that will protect New Yorkers’ health and help reduce litter in public parks and beaches across the state.”