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Could the Farm Bill Spell Trouble for MN’s Weird Weed Market?

Plus beyond the pale Feeding Our Future drama, big patio szn, and a flurry of restaurant news in today's Flyover news roundup.

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of important, overlooked, and/or interesting Minnesota news stories.

The Cannabis Council Comes for Hemp

The 2018 federal farm bill legalized hemp, allowing for the production and distribution of products containing hemp-derived cannabinoids. Minnesota's unusual edible market has helped the hemp-derived cannabinoid industry flourish after making it so that no license is required to sell THC products so long as that THC is hemp-derived—that's why you can buy 5 mg gummies at your salon or seltzer at your neighborhood coffee shop. And the U.S. Cannabis Council, with members including some of our largest marijuana companies? They don't love that.

For MinnPost, Ana Radelat reports that last month, the council sent a letter to lawmakers urging them to ban hemp products that contain “detectable quantities of total THC" in the farm bill. That would include the hemp-derived edibles and potables popular here. Now, an amendment approved in the House Agriculture Committee would alter the federal definition of legal hemp “to only include naturally occurring, naturally derived and non-intoxicating cannabinoids," essentially criminalizing the production of hemp-based gummies, beverages and edibles.

Radelat writes that "a war of this proportion between the marijuana and hemp industries in the farm bill is unprecedented," and the Midwest Hemp Council has sent a letter of its own to Congress warning that such a shift would be hugely detrimental to farmers. It's a long ways off from making the final version of the bill—and that's if lawmakers are able to agree on a final farm bill at all—but it has some hemp advocates worried.

Midwest Hemp Council president Justin Swanson tells MinnPost the amendment is “designed to dismantle the hemp industry as it exists today.” It could even pose a problem in states like Minnesota, where the production and sale of hemp-based products is protected, as retailers and manufacturers would no longer be able to write off ordinary business expenses on their federal tax return because their business would be illegal under federal law.

Feeding Our Future Scandal Somehow Becomes More Scandalous

There's no hard and fast rule about this here at Viraluae, but we generally try not to write about the big stories that are already generating headlines throughout the Twin Cities news universe. It's more fun (for us and for you!) to highlight the stuff that's interesting or overlooked, the stuff you wouldn't find on the front page, above the fold.

But this Feeding Our Future money in a bag situation...

If you're just tuning in, a juror in the massive fraud trial was dismissed this morning after a woman offered her a bag of money—$120,000 in cash—to acquit the defendants. The 23-year-old juror wasn't home, so the woman dropped the bag of bills with her father in law, with a promise to drop another bag of cash if she voted to acquit the seven defendants. The juror immediately reported the incident to Spring Lake Park police and handed over the bag of cash.

"This is completely beyond the pale," Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Thompson told U.S. District Judge Nancy Brasel. "This is outrageous behavior. This is stuff that happens in mob movies."

Actually though it feels more like the kind of stuff that happens in The Naked Gun! "Oh, she's not in? I'll just leave this $120K with you, then. And there's more where that came from!" Like, the juror is being heralded for doing the right thing, and she should be, but also, wouldn't you see the bag of money and immediately assume you were being punk'd? Just look at the bag!

Anyway, Deena Winter at the Minnesota Reformer has the whole absurd story.

Not Just Any Patio Szn. Big Patio Szn.

Now, I can't say for sure why you'd "need" a guide to the biggest patios in the Twin Cities. Maybe you're hosting a wedding reception or some other large gathering? Maybe you're heading out of the evening and want the best odds of snagging a seat? Maybe you have very long legs and want to be able to spread out as much as possible? In any case, J.D. Duggan at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal has once again put together a list of the metro's largest outdoor dining areas.

At the top you've got Surly Brewing Company (outdoor capacity of 905), followed by The Freight House in Stillwater (712), Pryes Brewing Co. (688), Lord Fletcher's Old Lake Lodge in Spring Park (680), and Maynard's Restaurant in Excelsior (600). Locals like Brit's Pub, the Gnome, Utepils, W.A. Frost and Company, and Saint Paul Brewing all appear further down the list, which goes as far as including Tattersall in River Falls, Wisconsin, in its definition of the Twin Cities. There are also four (four!) Craves on here.

More Food News You Can Use

Elsewhere in food news... look, I don't want to be dramatic, but every time I publish our comprehensive guide to the month's restaurant industry news, a bunch of stuff gets announced right after. That was certainly the case after May's Viraluae Restaurant Roundup installment hit our website Friday morning, and because it is my duty to both be and keep you all as annoyingly on top of this stuff as possible, here's what you've missed over the last three days.

  • Daniel Del Prado to open Dexter's: An "elevated sports bar" with a "casual yet refined" vibe is the latest from Daniel Del Prado (Martina, Colita, Rosalia, Macanda, Blondette, etc. etc. etc.). Dexter's, named for collaborators Carla and Spencer Jones' French bulldog, is headed for 3717 W. 50th St. in Minneapolis, where it will replace the Agra Culture that just moved next door, and it'll serve burgers, BLTs, and wings, but also a beef tongue pastrami Reuben sandwich. Read more via the Star Tribune.
  • Pig Ate My Pizza expands to Bloomington: Remember when Robbinsdale's Pig Ate My Pizza closed at the end of 2021, and then become Nouvelle Brewing, but then never really went away, with like a dozen Pig Ate My Pizza pies available at Nouvelle to this day? Well there's more good news for you PAMP heads: The Travail crew, which owns the brewery/pizza place, has submitted plans for a second pizza place at 10700 Bloomington Ferry Rd. Read more via Axios.
  • Justin Sutherland takes over Golden Thyme Presents: The unexpected passing of local luminary and Sammy's Avenue Eatery owner Sammy McDowell left questions about what would happen at Golden Thyme Presents, the St. Paul Black business incubator from nonprofit Rondo Community Land Trust where Sammy's had recently opened a location. The good news is that Golden Thyme Coffee and Cafe is coming back—this time as an all-day, full-service restaurant helmed by local celeb chef Justin Sutherland. Read more via the Pioneer Press.

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