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THC edible sales budding in Moorhead thanks to new legislation

A new law in Minnesota allows retailers to carry products containing up to 5 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC. Shops in Moorhead have taken advantage of the opportunity, calling it a

A man in a Carhartt T-shirt leans on a glass counter surrounded by various small, colorful packages.
Cody Townsend, director of operations at Northland Vapor, stands in front of a display wall at the Moorhead location on Friday, Aug. 26, 2022.
Alyssa Goelzer / The Forum
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MOORHEAD — Sales of THC edibles are blooming at shops across Moorhead due to recently enacted legislation in Minnesota that took effect in July.

Minnesota’s new legislation permits individuals over the age of 21 to purchase edible products, such as gummies, containing up to 5 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC.

Cody Townsend, regional manager for Northland Vapor , said his shop carries its own store brand of THC gummies called Minnabis. Asked to reflect on the first two months under the new law, Townsend said his company had to act quickly to meet a sudden spike in demand.

“It’s been interesting,” Townsend remarked. “(There was) a lot of confusion around it from a consumer perspective because it happened so quickly. We had to react quickly, as well. Thankfully, we’re manufacturers, and we were able to launch our own product and get a lot of new, cool stuff out there for anyone who’s interested in it.”

Two small plastic containers are labeled "Minnabis" with different flavors and a 50 mg note on them.
Minnabis Delta-9 THC edibles available at Northland Vapor are seen on Friday, Aug. 26, 2022, in Moorhead.
Alyssa Goelzer / The Forum

Northland Vapor has two Fargo locations and stores in both Bemidji and Sioux Falls. The company’s Moorhead shop, at 115 8th St. S., is its flagship store. An 8-count jar of Minnabis has been the “hot” seller, Townsend said.

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Minnabis comes in two flavors: strawberry lemonade and citrus punch. The company is also developing THC drinks, which they briefly sold in a limited run of production.

Matt Yde, owner of Moorhead’s Your CBD Store at 3234 Highway 10 E., said his store had been carrying legal delta-9 products before the law changed. Now, they’ve added sativa and indica gummies, as well as water-soluble items. Sativa offers an “uplifting” effect during the day, while indica is used for nighttime relaxation, Yde explained.

Ringing off the hook

Both Townsend and Yde said phone calls have poured in unabated since Minnesota’s law took effect.

Initially, Northland Vapor fielded between 40 to 50 calls per day from customers asking if the store carried the newly legalized gummies. Those calls have since “slowed down,” but they still come in on a daily basis.

A woman behind a clear glass counter helps another woman while a man waits in line.
Rory Everingham helps customers on Friday, Aug. 26, 2022, at Northland Vapor in Moorhead.
Alyssa Goelzer / The Forum

Yde shared a similar story, saying that interest and curiosity surrounding THC products rose “quite a bit” when the law changed. Even before it took effect on July 1, he said customers were calling to ask if they’d be carrying THC products.

“Right off the bat, we had a lot of rush of people in, just educating them and buying the new products and the gummies,” he recounted.

The gummies sold at Your CBD Store differentiate themselves from others because they contain a “full spectrum” of CBD in addition to the hemp cannabinoid, thus combining the benefits of CBD and THC into one product.

“We’re making a full plant product, whereas most companies are just putting 5 milligrams of straight THC into their gummies,” he explained. “We’re putting a full extract of the full plant with the THC in our gummies.”

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Townsend and Yde both said the new law has led to an increase in customers at their respective stores.

“We gained a lot of new customers. We see a lot of new faces in the Moorhead store,” Townsend commented. “It’s people that want to do the right thing and get their medicine the right way and the legal way.”

THC edibles have brought new customers through the doors at Your CBD Store, as well. Those customers have become acquainted with CBD as a result. “It’s helped us get some more consistent customers, because obviously with CBD there’s a lot of other benefits,” he said.

‘Some random number’

While selling THC products has been a net positive for Yde’s store, he questioned the efficacy of the new law.

Yde said his store had been tracking the legal landscape since last November, when the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld a ruling that possessing THC in non-smokable forms was illegal.

This year’s bill was designed to clarify that ruling, Yde said, though he said he did not understand the limit Minnesota set on THC content. “Originally, this whole bill was coming into play because they made CBD illegal to have in products or any THC at all,” he said. “For them to just throw out 5 milligrams, it just seems like some random number that they just decided to put out there without even knowing.”

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Yde added that he feels the new law makes discerning between CBD, THC and marijuana more difficult to untangle for the average consumer. He also wondered how state officials would enforce the new rules. “Are you going to go search every store in the entire state, buy products and check them all?” he opined.

Ultimately, Yde said he felt the best course of action would be broader legalization of THC products. “For me, running a business, it just makes more sense to make this stuff all legal,” he said. “If they’re not going to have the means to regulate it, it’s kind of pointless to have a 5-milligram limit at that point.”

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A fast turnaround

Townsend said preparing for the new law was “a big lift” for Northland Vapor.

Initially, Northland Vapor faced “a lot of confusion” surrounding the legislation, specifically when the law would take effect. “We thought we had another month. Thankfully, we had a bunch of research and development going on already, but we thought we had more time,” he said. “It all happened really fast.”

The company doesn’t extract its own THC, meaning it needed to source hemp-derived delta-9 from a reputable source. Then, they needed to manufacture using that delta-9 at the legally acceptable threshold. Additionally, the company needed to ensure that all packaging and labeling was acceptable under state law. “It took a little while to launch, but we got it out,” Townsend said.

An A-frame chalkboard sign reads "New Minnesota compliant Delta-9 THC edibles. Ask us for more details"
A sign displaying the new Delta-9 THC edibles available at Northland Vapor is on display in the store’s entryway on Friday, Aug. 26, 2022, in Moorhead.
Alyssa Goelzer / The Forum

Once those products hit the shelves, customers did the rest. “Our first weekend, I think we launched them on a Friday — by Monday they were gone," he continued.

Like Yde, Townsend agreed that the new legislation is an improvement for customers and businesses alike. In particular, consumers will now have a better understanding of where their products come from.

“I think it helps ease people’s minds knowing that everything is done right, done properly and not so loose,” Townsend said. “It’s legal, so we’re gaining new customers that were scared of gray areas or state-to-state laws that might have been confusing. Overall, it’s been very positive.”

Yde noted that the addition of THC products to his store offers a step up in potency without drifting into the realm of marijuana products. “We encourage people to really research and check out, especially, some of our products, because if you have it with the whole plant, it can be very therapeutic,” he said.

Thomas Evanella is a reporter for The Forum. He's worked for The Forum for over three years, primarily reporting on business news. He's also the host of the InForum Business Beat podcast, which can be streamed at InForum.com/podcasts or wherever you listen to your podcasts. Reach him at tevanella@forumcomm.com or by calling 701-241-5518. Follow him on Twitter @ThomasEvanella.
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