Duluth is taking a slow approach to possibly allowing a medical marijuana manufacturer to locate in the city.

The City Council has imposed a moratorium on such a facility for six months to a year so city planners can review relevant zoning rules.

Medical marijuana was legalized in Minnesota during the last legislative session. Minnesota's Office of Medical Cannabis says it's on track to register two medical marijuana manufacturers by the end of the month with a distribution target of July 2015.

At least one Duluth councilor voting for the moratorium said she was mindful of the city's struggle to shut down a synthetic drug business.

Other council members said that unlike synthetic drugs, marijuana offers medically recognized benefits.

A dozen companies that hope to grow and sell medical marijuana in the state met an October deadline and have submitted an application — and a $20,000 nonrefundable check — to the Minnesota Department of Health.

Twenty-nine companies had notified the state they planned to apply to become the state's first medical marijuana manufacturers, but fewer than half followed through.

The state is looking for applicants strong enough to get an entire industry up and running in a matter of months. The health commissioner will select two manufacturers on Dec. 1.

staff AND wire reports