Pot panic is starting to set in, as Nov. 4, when voters across the state will decide whether to make medical marijuana legal in Florida, nears. Multiple cities across the state are starting to think about how medical marijuana dispensaries may affect their economies (listen to my WMFE 90.7 News FM commentary on the subject here) – and their communities. Unfortunately, it's looking like some cities are assuming the worst. Cocoa Beach, for instance, votes tonight on an ordinance that would restrict medical marijuana dispensaries to two very specific locations that are outside of a 1,000 foot radius of churches and schools (because people with debilitating illnesses are going to corrupt the kids and upset the pastors, maybe?), at least 2,500 feet away from one another and have a restrictive buffer putting them at least 200 feet away from the centerline of major roadways. The two sites the city has identified as suitable for medical marijuana dispensaries happen to be located in super-touristy areas on private property near the Cocoa Beach Pier and Ron Jon Surf Shop.
"Having that in place should keep us from being the east coast marijuana capitol of the United States," City Commissioner Skip Williams told WFTV in reference to the restrictions.
The city of Maitland is also looking at restrictive ordinances to basically zone medical marijuana out of existence within its boundaries. According to the Winter Park Maitland Observer, the city is considering an ordinance that would open just one tiny zoning district to potential dispensaries. That district is so small, the Observer says, that there's only one building in it. And it's across from the police station, but that shouldn't matter, since the activities going on in a potential dispensary would be legal. “This is an effective way of doing it without saying it’s prohibited, because its not,” city attorney Cliff Shepard told the paper. Creative workaround, guys.
The city of Mount Dora also wants to keep medical marijuana from sullying its streets and is considering an ordinance to keep dispensaries restricted to what the Sentinel calls a "shabby stretch of land" on 441.
In other words, each of these cities wants to make it as difficult as possible for patients who have a legitimate reason to use a legal therapeutic drug to access to it.
"Our biggest concern is what can tend to happen around dispensaries, which is the loitering and any potential illegal activities," Mark Reggentin, the city's planning-and-zoning director tells the Sentinel. "The worst thing that can happen is somebody can legally purchase the product and illegally sell it."
Right. The worst thing. Because that hasn't been happening already since the government first criminalized it.