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– The City Council cleared the way Monday night for a medical marijuana distribution center to open here so approved patients have easier access to their medicine — even though no such business is on the way.

“We do not have an active application,” said City Administrator John Mulder. “We wanted to be ahead of that.”

During this year’s special session, the state Legislature tweaked the medical cannabis program so that each of the two licensed manufacturers, Minnesota Medical Solutions and LeafLine Labs, must now operate eight distribution facilities throughout the state. They were previously limited to four each.

The nearest distributor to Hermantown is a LeafLine center in Hibbing, about 70 miles away.

Mulder said the city hasn’t been approached by the companies, neither of which returned a request for comment Monday.

The City Council unanimously passed rules allowing medical cannabis distribution centers, and research and manufacturing facilities, in certain parts of the city, though whether one of the country’s most restrictive medical marijuana programs comes to town remains to be seen.

The Minnesota Department of Health said the new locations were “still to be determined” at the end of September. Across the Arrowhead region, about 1,048 patients were approved and active when the department’s October report came out; just 14% of enrolled patients live in the northern half of the state.

After the state law went into effect this summer, Hermantown passed a moratorium on medical marijuana facilities while it worked out the regulations that were passed Monday night.

Mulder said the rules would not apply to recreational marijuana, if Minnesota ends up legalizing it.

Brooks Johnson • 218-491-6496