Oakland Park Commissioners approved medical marijuana treatment centers and dispensaries at Wednesday evening’s meeting.
The city had placed a moratorium on the issue at a meeting in February. Jack Doren, chairman of the city’s planning and zoning committee, said allowing the permitting process to begin was the right move.
“Oakland Park has come up with a very creative way of maintaining some controls over it and yet allowing it and those controls can always be adjusted,” Doren told commissioners. “Making it conditional use is a very creative way of complying with state laws and making this medicine – and it is a medicine – available.”
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Doren, a gay man, testified at previous meetings that inhaling cannabis helped to alleviate nausea from his HIV medications. Last November, Florida residents voted to amend the state’s constitution to allow for the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. The state began implementing its plans through the “office of compassionate use.”
Amendments to the state’s constitution must garner 60 percent approval from registered voters. In Broward County, voters approved the amendment by 76 percent with most precincts in Oakland Park reaching 80 percent.
“Our city and our residents did speak and spoke loudly and I think what we found here is a good solution,” said Mayor John Adornato III. “We do have the kind of controls that we need if we need them to make sure we don’t get into any kind of situation we don’t want to be in but also providing for the opportunity for patients to get the kind of medicine they need. I do support this. I do think we’re moving in the right direction. I do think this is responsive and accountable to the residents that had wanted it and that we are in control of what our city looks like in the future.”
Medical marijuana is permitted in the city by conditional use. The treatment center and dispensary ordinance defines a pharmacy as retail sales establishments where on-site prescription drug sales occupy more than 30 percent of the gross floor area. Treatment centers and dispensaries must be 500 feet from schools, per the ordinance.
On a 4-0 vote, commissioners voted to proceed with medical marijuana implementation. Commissioner Matt Sparks was absent.
Scott Herman, President of the Dolphin Democrats, said he was pleased to see Oakland Park relax its definition of “pharmacy” in the city code.
“This is what the people wanted and the city is delivering,” Herman said.