Medical Marijuana is a Go, but Don't Think About Smoking It

Medical Marijuana is a Go, but Don’t Think About Smoking It

Smoking marijuana is prohibited under the new Florida medical marijuana program, so don’t think about lighting up. The new laws are unclear on whether or not legal patients will be able to buy “flower,” but is clear about edible cannabis or cannabis oil extracts. This will make it much easier for law enforcement to smell out whether or not someone is smoking marijuana, since it won’t be sold legally in the dispensaries.

Medical-marijuana products allowed under Florida law include pills, oils and “edibles,” but marijuana for smoking is forbidden. The edibles may not be made in such a way as to be attractive to children. Marijuana in Florida will not be legally sold in its raw flower form, as shown in this image.

Cities around West Volusia, including Orange City, Deltona and DeLand, have recently been taking up the issue of how — or even if — to allow medical-marijuana dispensaries within their limits.

“There’s going to be an impact, one way or another,” City Attorney William Reischmann told the Orange City Council June 13, in his briefing of the council on what to expect as a result of the medical-marijuana bill signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott. The bill is supposed to implement a Florida constitutional amendment passed by 71 percent of the state’s voters last fall.

A limit in the number of medical-marijuana dispensaries comes from the ratio of retail facilities allowed per marijuana-cultivation and -production center. Under the new law, the state will license 10 new growers, bringing to 17 the number of producers/wholesale operators.

Each of those growers-wholesalers may have as many as 25 dispensaries. Thus, there may be a legal maximum of 425 medical-marijuana retail outlets around Florida, from Pensacola to Key West.

Reischmann told the City Council it must decide whether it will allow medical-marijuana dispensaries inside its city limits or ban them altogether.

If Orange City does allow such businesses, Reischmann said, it must consider them as equals of regular drugstores. Moreover, if a city allows regular drugstores to remain open 24 hours a day, it must then allow medical-marijuana dispensaries to be open for business around the clock.

The law regulating medical marijuana, passed by the Florida Legislature during a special session and signed by Gov. Rick Scott shortly thereafter, sets a minimum 500-foot separation distance between a medical-marijuana dispensary and an elementary or secondary school, but there is no mention of a required distance between a dispensary and a church or other facilities.

Medical-marijuana products allowed under the bill include pills, oils and “edibles,” but marijuana for smoking is forbidden. The edibles may not be made in such a way as to be attractive to children.

City Manager Dale Arrington recommended that the council “take a couple of months” to consider the situation.

Not everyone is pleased.

Monette stressed the sales of medical marijuana will be carefully restricted, noting a customer “must be ill to make a purchase.”

The dispensary will offer marijuana medications in the forms of oils, creams and “edibles,” but not marijuana to be smoked.

Under a city ordinance adopted in 2014, well in advance of the 2016 Florida constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana, medical-marijuana dispensaries may be established in Deltona’s commercial zones, with a special authorization known as a conditional use.

Feelings about medical marijuana run deep on both sides.