City Looks For Loophole to Protect its Medical Marijuana Regulations

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To ensure its regulations on medical marijuana dispensaries stand up to state law, Wilton Manors officials will look at regulating pharmacies.

The legislature has mandated that cities can only allow dispensaries if they are zoned and regulated in the same fashion as pharmacies. City’s that ban dispensaries don’t have to create such parity. When they approved the regulations last year, commissioners said they wanted to regulate dispensaries before the legislature legalized them because they wanted to control where in the city they could be located.

“We may be longing for the days when we had so many bars,” said Commissioner Tom Green about distance separation.

The city can’t limit the number of dispensaries, but City Attorney Kerry Ezrol said that there is nothing about distance separation from schools, churches, and other dispensaries. Commissioners passed a 1,000-foot separation requirement last year. Ezrol warned though that a court could end up viewing the distance requirement as an unjust restriction.

“Maybe we could do that for regular pharmacies as well,” said Mayor Gary Resnick. Existing pharmacies would be grandfathered-in.

“I’m not comfortable banning,” said Vice Mayor Justin Flippen.

But some commissioners had second thoughts about the ban. Commissioner Scott Newton said if Fort Lauderdale and Oakland Park initiate bans Wilton Manors might be the only city in the area with a dispensary. “I don’t want to ban it but banning it might be the best thing right now,” said Newton.

At multiple meetings, commissioners have often brought up the need to allow residents access to regulating medical marijuana. Previously, Commissioner Julie Carson has said the city shouldn’t get in the way of its residents getting medical marijuana in the same way it wouldn’t block residents from having access to HIV/AIDS medication.

Resnick told a story about an unnamed resident whose Parkinson’s disease is only treatable with medical marijuana. Resnick said the man has to go to Miami to get his medication.

Green said there’s no need to have a dispensary because medical marijuana can be mailed directly to homes. He also advocated waiting to see if the legislature does anything else on the issue before the city moves forward with more action.

 


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