Minnesota's Renville County prohibits cannabis use in public places

Sep. 12—OLIVIA

— The

Renville County Board of Commissioners

on a unanimous vote Tuesday adopted an ordinance banning the use of cannabis in public places and places of public accommodation.

The commissioners adopted an ordinance drafted by County Attorney Kelsie Kingstrom that is based on ordinances being adopted by counties across the state.

The ordinance makes the offense a petty misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $300.

It treats cannabis no differently than cigarettes and other tobacco products, and bans its use in county parks and other county-owned public places.

Kingstrom told the commissioners that she believes law enforcement will enforce the new ordinance no differently than the tobacco ordinance.

The commissioners adopted the ordinance after holding a public hearing at which there was no public input offered.

The ordinance applies only to county lands. The legislation allowing the use of cannabis gives cities the authority to govern cannabis use in public areas within their boundaries.

The county attorney said she anticipated that communities in the county were likely to follow the county's lead and adopt their own copies of the ordinance.

She said

Stearns County

had adopted an ordinance in which it apparently imposes the county ban on public lands in municipalities. She recommended that Renville County not take that approach.

It is not clear whether the county's ban applies to visitors to county parks who use cannabis in their enclosed campers. Kingstrom said she could not give an opinion on whether the county's ban can be applied to camping units.

Kingstrom proposed the ordinance in August. She cited her concerns about exposing youths to the drug. She told the commissioners at their Aug. 15 meeting that an ordinance banning the use of marijuana in public spaces can help "minimize risks to our minors until they are old enough to make decisions for themselves."