While Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, Palm Shores, and Grant-Valkaria have all passed regulations which still allow medical dispensaries in some form, two municipalities in Brevard County are taking a different approach to preemptively regulating medical cannabis. Titusville has passed an ordinance to prohibit the cultivation of medical cannabis, and an ordinance that would create a moratorium on medical cannabis in the city. West Melbourne is struggling to decide what to do, although many members of the City Council would like to pass an outright ban.
Titusville Prohibits Cannabis Cultivation and Establishes Medical Cannabis Moratorium
In August, the Titusville City Council passed two ordinances to regulate medical cannabis, one ordinance, Ordinance No. 37-2014, prohibits the cultivation of cannabis, including low-THC medical cannabis and hemp, the other ordinance, Ordinance No. 36-2014, established a moratorium on medical cannabis treatment centers, dispensaries, facilities, and care givers. The moratorium would last until May 1st, 2015, unless rescinded before then, or if prior to expiring, the City Council may choose to extend the moratorium an additional 90 days, meaning the medical cannabis moratorium in Titusville could last until near the end of July, 2015. Low-THC medical cannabis dispensaries are also prohibited under the moratorium as, although the ordinance specifically mentions Amendment 2, it also prohibits distribution of medical cannabis “pursuant to any other provision of Florida law,” which would include dispensaries approved under SB 1030, the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014.
West Melbourne Considers Ban
West Melbourne's City Attorney Jim Wilson conducted researched to find out if the city could preemptively enact an outright ban on medical cannabis within the city. At the Melbourne City Council's meeting on Wednesday, September 3rd, City Attorney Jim Wilson reported his findings, recommending that the city instead limit dispensaries to certain areas of the city.
West Melbourne City Attorney Recommends Against Outright Ban on Medical Cannabis
Deputy Mayor John Tice criticized Wilson for not delivering a firm answer to the Council's question as to whether the city had the authority to enact an outright ban on medical cannabis dispensaries. Wilson responded by saying that he believes that an outright ban on medical cannabis dispensaries is possible, but being the first and only city in Florida to pass an outright ban would open up the city to a lawsuit. Wilson said that a dispensary with deep pockets might want to challenge the only city to have an outright ban. “The smart way to do this is to wait and see what the state does when they pass the regulations pursuant to the amendment, if the amendment passes. Now if the amendment doesn't pass, none of this matters, but if the state allows the cities great latitude in regulating these things, it would be easier to ban it when that state statute exists that says we can regulate it, up to and including banning it,” City Attorney Jim Wilson responded. Ryan Padgett of the Florida League of Cities told Florida Today that the language of Amendment 2 does not address a municipality's authority to regulate medical cannabis.
West Melbourne's Police Chief Richard Wiley spoke about medical cannabis to the City Council, according to the Florida Today Wiley said that, “It's going to cause nothing but crime and social disorder,” and claimed to the council that the, “marijuana of today is not the marijuana of '68.” Wiley claimed that levels of THC in cannabis today were higher and were harmful. Councilman Pat Bentley questioned why the council was trying to create regulations for Amendment 2 has not even been voted on, and might be supported by a majority of it's citizens. Deputy Mayor John Tice, Councilwoman Stephany Eley, Councilwoman Barbara Smith, and Councilwoman Andrea Young all say they would like an outright ban. Councilwoman Young asked, “Could we not be like a dry county and be a fume-free city?” No consensus on what to do was reached by the council after an hour of discussion, and the issue was tabled for October when the council will have a last minute chance to regulate medical cannabis before voters go to the polls to approve or reject Amendment 2.