City dispensary bans in Florida are becoming more prevalent as frustrations over state rules that mandate that cities not regulate zoning of medical marijuana dispensaries any more strictly than they would pharmacies builds. Cities in central Florida, including Orlando, are considering exercising their right to not allow dispensaries within city limits. Orlando already has a few dispensaries they have granted the right to setup shop, but is considering not allowing any others. Winter Garden and Winter Park are considering not allowing any.
Several Central Florida cities are mulling bans on medical marijuana shops
Orlando is preparing to ban new medical marijuana dispensaries, blaming state rules that prevent local governments from regulating the shops any differently than a drug store.
Two other Central Florida cities, Winter Garden and Winter Park, also plan to consider banning dispensaries.
Knox Cannabis Dispensary opened the region’s first medical marijuana shop June 2 on North Orange Avenue in Ivanhoe Village. A second shop, planned by Trulieve on North Orange Blossom Trail, is in the permitting process.
They may be the last in Orlando for now. City commissioners are expected to discuss a ban of new dispensaries July 10, according to a legal notice.
“Although we are supportive of medical-marijuana dispensaries, the state has essentially taken away our ability to reasonably regulate this land use in our city,” Orlando spokeswoman Cassandra Lafser said in an email to the Orlando Sentinel.
New state rules give local governments the authority to ban medical marijuana retail outlets but forbid regulating the dispensaries more harshly than pharmacies, which often are located near neighborhoods, churches, parks, schools and each other.
Some cities, including Orlando, had adopted rules to prevent an “over concentration” of dispensaries.
But the state rules negate local ordinances and put city and county officials in a quandary.
“Everybody has questions,” said A. Kurt Ardaman, a lawyer with Fishback Dominick who helped write proposed ordinances for Winter Garden and Winter Park that would prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries in both cities, for whom he provides legal counsel.
“It’s an unusual situation to have these extreme positions,” he said.
In November, 71 percent of Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment broadly legalizing medical marijuana.
But Lafser said the state’s rules will “potentially create an unfair burden for our neighborhoods … ”