Local Medical Marijuana Regulation Begins in Florida
Some local governments in Florida are taking action on medical marijuana, with at least 5 dispensaries and growers set to open in the coming year because of the enactment of SB 1030, the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, and with many more likely to open should voters approve Amendment 2 in November, some municipalities are moving forward with medical marijuana regulation to approve or ban dispensaries in their area. Many local politicians see the approval of Amendment 2 as a foregone conclusion. Other cities and counties are waiting to see what the final rules will be, regarding local medical marijuana regulation, should Amendment 2 pass.
Cocoa Beach, FL City Commission Votes to Restrict Locations for Dispensaries
On Thursday, June 19th, 2014, the Cocoa Beach City Commission approved a medical marijuana ordinance by a vote of 4-1. In the preceding months, the city had held five public workshops and meetings to discuss the ordinance. The Cocoa Beach medical marijuana ordinance regulates where dispensaries can open up within the city. The ordinance blocks dispensaries from opening up within a certain distance of main roads, churches, schools, and homes. In the city’s 4 square miles, that leaves dispensaries with the option of opening facilities near the pier and the Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach. The City Commission claims the motivation for the ordinance was to prevent dispensaries from springing up all over town, should Amendment 2 pass.
Orange County, FL Considering Marijuana Regulations
Orange County is also considering taking action to regulate where dispensaries could open up. County Commissioner Ted Edwards proposed such restrictions, saying, “Similar to the pain pill clinics, adult entertainment we tend to restrict those to where they are in areas where they will not have a negative impact on the surrounding areas.” Edwards wants to keep dispensaries off of International Drive. “No, won’t be on International Drive. Won’t be on International Drive. For the multi-billion dollar tourist industry that we have, for the family values that we have, I don’t think it’s conducive for all the marketing that we’ve done to have our tourists come here and see people, you know, lined up buying medical marijuana.”
Commissioner Edwards of Orange County is also looking to ban public use of medical marijuana. “It would seem ironic if you cannot consume a beer in public or a cigarette in public, but you could smoke a joint or eat a brownie in public. I think we want to give the Sheriff all the tools he has, respecting the law, but also placing reasonable restraints and restrictions on where it could be consumed.” Orange County Manager Ajit Lachandani says it will be open to legal interpretation, “If somebody has a doctor’s certificate, can’t they say this, you know, I’m supposed to smoke right after my meal, and before my dessert, I mean, I don’t know.”
Other Florida Local Governments Waiting to Take Action
Vero Beach City Councilmember Wesley S. Davis believes it is too early for local governments to start regulating medical marijuana. “Because of the state regulation of the authorized centers and their limited geographic nature, and due to the hypothetical nature of the constitutional amendment, and its state regulation of medicinal marijuana, the county has not moved forward with any legislation yet to regulate these uses.” Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala also believes it may be too early to begin passing legislation, “We are just beginning to have discussions. However, until the rules are written by the Legislature, we are not sure what authority we will have.” Other counties, such as Baker, Monroe, Lee, and DeSoto counties have no current plans to propose medical marijuana regulation legislation.