Zoning issues have once again lead Boca Raton to ban medical marijuana treatment centers. The city already banned the dispensaries once due to zoning issues and they also wanted to know more about public sentiment. Apparently what they heard from the public led them to draw the conclusion that they needed more time to decide. Florida law requires cities, towns and counties in the state to zone medical marijuana dispensaries just as they would pharmacies. Many cities have used this excuse to ban the treatment centers despite voters being overwhelmingly in favor of medical marijuana.
An important vote happened at Boca Raton City Hall Tuesday night.
The council decided to extend its moratorium on marijuana dispensaries for one year.
City leaders wanted state leaders to give municipalities more authority to set limits on dispensaries.
The council members say they are going to wait to decide how they’ll vote until after they’ve heard all public comment.
If the dispensaries are allowed, they would be treated as pharmacies and could go anywhere a pharmacy could go.
This is an issue that many other South Florida cities and towns have already dealt with.
Boca Raton already has doctors offices that will recommend medical marijuana, which is now legal in Florida.
But will a person be able to get their pot in the city –or will they have to go elsewhere?
For zoning purposes, a medical marijuana dispensary is legally no different than a Walgreens, a Rite Aid or a CVS, according to state law.
But some local governments– like Delray Beach– have imposed a total ban on dispensaries.
Mayor Susan Haynie says she would like the state to adjust the language of the law to give cities the authority to limit the number of dispensaries.
She believes it would be helpful.
“I certainly do not want to go against the wishes of the citizens of Florida, I certainly support it, however we as municipalities need that little bit of extra regulation to make sure that our residents are safe,” she said.
Since that option isn’t available, Haynie says she will hold off on making a final decision until after Tuesday night’s public comment session.
Seth Schneider, a local businessman and father of two, has lived in the Boca Raton for 14 years and hopes the council will allow the dispensaries.
“These are not places where degenerates go for hanging out, these are places where mothers go to get help with the children with epilepsy, these are places where people with MS go to help with MS, these are medical facilities, these are not places like bars where people are getting drunk and driving,” he said.
If the ban goes into effect, the closest place to buy medical marijuana would be Lake Worth.