No Smoking In Public in Bonita Springs

Bonita Springs Considers Regulations

Part 1: Smoking Ban Modeled After County Open Container Law

The ordinance to ban the smoking of medical cannabis in the City of Bonita Springs will have it's first reading and vote at the Wednesday, October 15th City Council meeting. If the ordinance passes on it's first reading at the meeting on the 15th it will then have a second reading and final vote on Wednesday, November 5th. Should Amendment 2 not pass with at least 60% of the vote, the City Council could remove the ordinance from the agenda, in which case, the use of low-THC medical cannabis, under the program enacted by the state legislature earlier this year, would be unaffected in the city.

Smoking Ban Modeled After County's Open Container Law

The Bonita Springs medical cannabis smoking ban was modeled after the Lee County open container law for where alcohol is prohibited in public places. The Bonita Springs ordinance differs from the Lee County open container law in that it updates the definition from public to “open and public,” a term used under Colorado and Washington's recreational cannabis legislation. The ordinance's use of the term “open and public” expands the prohibition on smoking medical cannabis to places that are not actually public property, such as private residences and properties, only if a “person repeatedly disturbs or annoys another person outside of the perimeter of the subject property because of the second hand smoke generated from the smoking of marijuana.” The definition of park was expanded to include parks not just “under the control and administration” of the city, but also parks “under the control and administration” of Lee County or the State of Florida.

Another major difference between the county's open container law and the City of Bonita Springs' medical cannabis smoking ban, is that while it is common for the City Council to grant special exception permits to allow parks to be used as a venue for drinking alcohol, special exception permits to allow medical cannabis smoking in parks would require a supermajority (at least a 5-2 vote) from the City Council. Audrey Vance, the City Attorney for Bonita Springs, believes that medical cannabis zoning issues can wait until after Amendment 2 is voted on, but that if the Council wishes to prohibit the smoking of medical cannabis, it should act sooner, rather than later. Bonita Springs' City Attorney also foresees a challenge to Amendment 2, and medical cannabis smoking bans, on the grounds of Equal Protection.The ordinance to ban the smoking of medical cannabis in the City of Bonita Springs will have it's first reading and vote at the Wednesday, October 15th City Council meeting. If the ordinance passes on it's first reading at the meeting on the 15th it will then have a second reading and final vote on Wednesday, November 5th. Should Amendment 2 not pass with at least 60% of the vote, the City Council could remove the ordinance from the agenda, in which case, the use of low-THC medical cannabis, under the program enacted by the state legislature earlier this year, would be unaffected in the city.

Ordinances Result of Research by City Attorney

The City Attorney had researched ordinances from other municipalities across Florida that have preemptively regulated medical cannabis before the vote on Amendment 2. City Attorney Vance also considered information found in a memo from the Florida League of Cities, which gave an overview of the options that municipalities in the Sunshine State have to regulate medical cannabis within their borders. Vance pointed out that the language of Amendment 2 clearly allows municipalities to regulate the smoking of medical cannabis in public places. If Amendment 2 passes, the city could pass an ordinance to create a Compassionate Use Registry, similar to the one under the low-THC medical cannabis law, for treatment centers which open up under Amendment 2. Such an ordinance could require a log of customers/patients that could be inspected by law enforcement. The City Attorney recommended the City Council not adopt a Compassionate Use Registry ordinance, unless requested to do so by the Lee County Sheriff's Office. City Attorney Vance also recommended prohibiting, or strictly limiting, the cultivation of medical cannabis in Bonita Springs.

Check back for Part 2, the ordinances will be have their first hearing and be voted on at the October 15th Bonita Springs City Council meeting.