When a new business opens – especially one that fills space that’s been under-utilized for several years – it’s typically welcomed with open arms by a city. However, that was not the case for a new business that opened within the past two weeks in Isanti.
The CBD Joint, located at 801 Highway 65, was welcomed with multiple cease and desist and ordinance violation letters from the city of Isanti.
Dennis Buchanan, Jr., owner of Sex World in Minneapolis as well as numerous other business and development projects, bought the strip mall in Isanti to open “Minnesota’s Biggest CBD shop,” according to an ad airing on radio station 93X.
“Just a fun little project,” Buchanan said, of purchasing the strip mall. “That place right there is a showroom for my industry.”
Calm before the storm
At first, the store’s opening was barely noticed, even by the city. In a Facebook comment on a post that has since been deleted, Isanti mayor Jeff Johnson said the store “came in under the radar.”
That all changed after the airing of the 93X ad. In it, which is formated as an “interview” of Buchanan by one of the deejays, Buchanan extols having “everything from CBD hemp flower to wall-to-wall adult toys.” (See an excerpt of the commercial in sidebar)
Upon hearing the ad, an anonymous person questioned the store’s opening on an unofficial “City of Isanti” Facebook page, which prompted numerous comments and questions, including the statement from Mayor Johnson, where he also stated the city would need to take legal action against the store.
Cease and desist
On Aug. 1, the city delivered a notice to the store saying, “It has been observed in your store ... that you are selling adult materials/products and drug paraphernalia...”
The letter goes on to cite city ordinance 445, which limits the type of businesses allowed within the Highway 65 corridor. While a CBD store appears to be permissible, it is the addition of the adult material that creates the ordinance violation.
Also according to city ordinance, even if the store wasn’t located within the Highway 65 corridor, Buchanan would have needed to obtain a license from the city to sell adult materials.
Although Buchanan was aware the city may have ordinances regarding some of the items he was planning to sell, “when I make a decision, I don’t let that get in my way,” Buchanan said. “I’ve been looking at that spot for 10 years. I’ve known it’s been vacant, and I know the only thing that can go there is what I do. Nobody else is going to turn around and go get groceries or an arrow or something like that. They’re going to turn around to come see me.”
Defining adult products
To clarify the types of adult products he sells, Buchanan said, “As far as toys go, I sell massagers, lubricants, lingerie. I don’t really sell adult toys, per se.”
He said the store may carry items that look like a male organ or a female organ, but that is a very small percentage of products he sells.
“They are trying to enforce laws that were from the ’80s,” he said, “when it was all porn shops, like nasty stuff. That’s not what we are. We’re open, we’re clean, we’re new wave. I’m out for sexual wellness and health – healthy lives, healthy lifestyles.”
Despite his disagreement with the ordinance, Buchanan stated that after receiving the letter from the city, he did pull the adult products from his shelves for the time being while he contests the ordinance.
What is ‘drug paraphernalia?’
The other area of the store that the city determined violates city code was the selling of glass pipes.
The cease and desist letter read, “The sale of drug paraphernalia such as pipes, etc., is not allowed per city code Chapter 144...”
Buchanan argues that the pipes he sells in his shop are not “drug paraphernalia,” but a tool needed by his customers to consume their medicine (CBD). He noted that the CBD flower, which is consumed by smoking, is federally legal in every state.
“We’re going to have a real problem with you telling me I can’t sell them something that’s legal, that (customers) need to actually smoke it,” Buchanan said. “The city does not know this. They need to be educated. There’s no way to educate anyone unless a lawyer tells them or somebody who has the balls to stand up to them and tell them this isn’t right. And I’ve seen them do this in Stillwater, Forest Lake, Moorhead.”
Buchanan said he has attorneys who will be fighting the city on its ordinances restricting his businesses. Assisting his main attorney Brian Sund, will be Randy Tigue, who has been a First Amendment attorney for about 40 years, Buchanan said. Tigue’s most infamous client was Ferris Alexander, who was king of porn in Minneapolis from the late 1960s to the 1980s, according to Buchanan.
Buchanan claims that previous successful fights against cities have taken place in Rochester, Winona and Forest Lake, and he also noted the whole industry – “California, New York and Miami” – are behind him on his fight.
“They all want this up here, and they are funding me,” he said. “I wouldn’t want (the city) to use their resources on that.
“This is a great opportunity to teach that this is nothing to fear. I’m not coming in to be a blight on the community,” Buchanan said. “I see CBD shops everywhere. If I have a couple of toys back there, I think people would be happy. They don’t have to drive downtown to get one. I’m not here to fight anyone, I’m here to love. I love people, I don’t hate them.”
‘I didn’t realize how well the CBD was going to pair with the other products you have at your store, like the sex toys. It increased my sex drive like crazy...’
93X Radio Deejay in ad for The CBD Joint