James Gillespie

Florida Cities Make Temporary MMJ Dispensary Bans Permanent

Some cities in Florida have made their temporary dispensary bans permanent as the state continues to struggle with rolling out its medical cannabis program, according to the Sun Sentinel.

It’s been two years since more than 70 percent of Florida voters approved medical cannabis in the state. Now, permanent bans are in place in Boca Raton, Coral Springs, Margate, Tamarac and Pembroke Pines. Previously, these cities only had temporary bans while the medical cannabis program developed.

Language from rules passed in 2017 allows Florida municipalities to choose two strategies for regulating dispensaries: either ban them outright or treat them just like pharmacies. The issue with treating them like pharmacies, for some cities, is that it opens the door to too many dispensaries, too quickly — as the only restriction on dispensary location would be that they couldn’t exist within 500 feet of schools.

Other Florida cities with dispensary bans include Delray Beach, Highland Beach, Hillsboro Beach, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Royal Palm Beach, Sea Ranch Lakes and Southwest Ranches.

Lake Worth, Florida — the first city to open a dispensary in the state — stopped allowing additional dispensaries after licensing two.

“The state didn’t put the right regulations in place. It put us in a very tricky predicament.” — Lake Worth Mayor Pam Triolo

Proponents of the bans argue that the law allows for delivery and that, because of that, dispensaries don’t need to open in every town. Some also fear the cash-only operations of cannabis dispensaries and suspect that it will lead to additional crime in their areas. Authorities noted, however, that such crime has not yet appeared even in cities with operating dispensaries.

Everyone involved hopes for a change in the laws guiding medical cannabis in Florida. Many city leaders are asking for the ability to control some dispensary regulations, such as where they can operate or how many can be opened, on a city-by-city basis.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that there are only 11 dispensaries open in Florida. In actuality, there 64 dispensaries open in the state, 11 of which are in South Florida.

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