ALEXANDRIA — In July of 2022, Minnesota lawmakers legalized Delta-9 THC in food and beverages with little to no guidelines for how it should be regulated or enforced. This prompted the city of Alexandria to develop its own regulations.
The new city code regulating the sales of products containing THC was unanimously approved by the Alexandria City Council on Monday, Oct. 10. Vape Carts
Five businesses in Alexandria applied for a THC license at Monday, Dec. 12, City Council meeting. The City Council approved one application, submitted by Ebacco. They held off on approving the others because the applications are not complete.
At the meeting Len Worthington of Brandon, Ebacco's operating manager, offered his opinion of THC, saying there is a definite place for it in the community but just like other products, such as red wine, too much of it is not good.
In his life, Worthington worked for 10 years as a Child Protection Social Worker in Manchester, England — where he is originally from — and spent time as a Youth Pastor in New York for five years and Florida for three.
He moved to Brandon from England with his wife — who has family in the area — after dealing with a bad child protective case in the U.K. He has been here for the last 11 years.
Today, he is the operating manager for Ebacco located at 410 30th Avenue East, suite 104 in Alexandria. He took on the position last September as a favor.
"I was only going to stay here for a month or two and then I realized there is real therapeutic benefits to a lot of the stuff we have for sale here it just wasn't being done correctly," He said.
Worthington said he realized this after speaking with local doctors on the benefits of the store's products and has since changed the store's approach to health and wellness.
"We started working with doctors to help people with cessation problems for nicotine," he said. "It's all about doing things the right way. If you get someone who is on 20 cigarettes a day, that's 32 carcinogens depending on the brand. In a vape, you're looking at two (carcinogens)."
Worthington added that one of the goals of the shop is to reduce a person's nicotine level by slowly weaning them down from a higher concentration of nicotine in their vape to a lower level.
This new health and wellness approach is what led Worthington to apply through the city for a license to sell THC. He said the doctors he has spoken to have actually tried to prescribe medical marijuana, which contains THC, to their patients but have had little luck due to insurance companies not covering the cost.
"I come from a strange background to be in a place like this," Worthington said with a chuckle, referencing his time as a social worker and pastor while adding that he trained as a drug and alcohol counselor. "I saw an awful lot of drug misuse and substance abuse. My kid brother died from an overdose. To be in a position where I am championing THC is kind of strange, I think, for a lot of people. How I look at it, there is definitely a place (for THC), as long as it's properly monitored and used."
Worthington said THC helps those with pain, anxiety, depression and sleeplessness. He said those who sell THC should do so with integrity by providing the right product for a person's needs.
"For me, it's not about someone getting high," Worthington said. "If people want to get high, they're going to get high anyway. Legalizing certain levels of THC is a great benefit. It takes people from going to the street to purchase (THC) which is not controlled in any way shape or form and has reprehensible impacts on people's mental health and well-being in general."
Worthington explained that in the 1970s and 1980s, people who grew marijuana began breeding out CBD. A chemical compound found in the plant like THC that counteracts the latter's effects. This process created a plant that is much more potent and psychoactive than its previous state. Worthington said nobody needs those levels of THC.
"It's dangerous really. But, in the same breath, if we judge all THC by those strains that people sell illegally, it's like throwing the baby out with the bath water," he said. "The therapeutic properties of THC, when in the correct doses, are incredible."
Worthington says he has had customers dealing with chronic pain come in for Delta-9 THC and other THC variants like Delta-8, THC-O and THC-H, have been able to wean themselves off opioids they have been prescribed to for years that were having little to no effect as their body built a tolerance to the opioid medication.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) those who are more likely to abuse a drug like heroin are "people who are addicted to prescription opioid painkillers." This is a result of the tolerance people build toward opioids. When their prescriptions stop having the same effect, they seek out a stronger drug like heroin.
"For me, I look at a lot of these (THC) products and say, 'This is going to change someone's life,'" Worthington said.
Worthington said with the background he comes from, he is picky about substances that people can become addicted to or receive adverse side effects from. That's why, he added, he doesn't sell anything at Ebacco that he wouldn't feel comfortable with a family member taking.
"We sell very mindfully and with the fact that it's to address issues," he said. "We've gone back to the drawing board and gone, 'Can we improve people's health? Can we help people with the products we are selling?' The answer is 'yes,' As long as it's done the right way."
Worthington also made it clear that Ebacco has a strict policy against selling to minors and added that the places that have sold to minors jeopardize the benefits THC has for the community by creating a negative stigma for those who want to sell their products to help people.
He added that he is impressed with the way the city council addressed the regulations of THC.
"They thoughtfully and thoroughly considered how to monitor it. Yeah, it was a difficult process but it should be. You don't want every Tom, Dick and Harry being able to sell this kind of product. It has to be done in an integrious manner. Having accountability for it is a good thing," Worthington said.
Vape Carts He added that one of the reasons he likes living in the area, is that the community looks out for and supports one another, and that's what he is trying to do.