We hope everyone who felt the effects of Hurricane Irma are doing well today and recover quickly. The medical marijuana industry keeps moving forward though and central Florida has elected to ban more dispensaries. There are a lot of gaps on the map of medical marijuana treatment centers in central Florida relative to the northern part, but they have a lot compared to south Florida. Most recently, Apopka has elected to ban dispensaries due to the zoning mandates of the state that say dispensaries need to be zoned just like pharmacies. So, who should give in? Should the state change its zoning rules because so many counties and cities are unhappy about the rule, or should counties instead work with the zoning rules to give its residents what they want?
Despite a long agricultural history, Apopka became the latest Central Florida government to ban medical marijuana shops within their borders.
Eustis in Lake County also may soon join the growing roster of communities who are just saying no to dispensaries.
Leaders in Apopka cited regulating limits imposed by legislators as a reason for backing a ban. They said the state rules give local communities little choice: Either ban dispensaries or treat them like a CVS, Walgreen’s or another pharmacy, which means pot shops could pop up near churches and neighborhoods.
On the flip side Wednesday, Daytona Beach city commissioners approved dispensaries after an hour-long debate.
Some pointed out that 71 percent of voters approved the medical-marijuana amendment in November, which was to expand access to non-euphoric forms of the drug to treat patients with cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder, multiple sclerosis and other debilitating conditions.
“This was overwhelmingly the will of the people, and I feel compelled to vote consistent with the people in my zone,” City Commissioner Aaron Delgado said. “People hurting should not have to drive to another city to get this medication. I don’t think it’s going to corrupt our values or cause people to use drugs who otherwise would not.”
Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry also voted against a ban.
“Let’s move on and give people what they have a right to have,” the mayor said.
Central Florida has a patchwork of rules for medical marijuana dispensaries. Winter Garden and Winter Park also don’t allow them, while Astatula and Oviedo do.
Others have imposed a temporary ban or moratorium to figure out what to do.
In June, Knox Medical opened a shop on North Orange Avenue in Ivanhoe Village, the first in Orlando. A second dispensary is planned by Trulieve for a location on North Orange Blossom Trail.
But later that month, when the Legislature passed its rules, Orlando imposed a moratorium on the shops while it considers its options.
The city previously established rules limiting the number of dispensaries and creating distance requirements from schools, homes and other dispensaries.