Voters may or may not approve Amendment 2 in November, allowing the prescription of medical marijuana and the operation of dispensaries, but Wilton Manors commissioners want to be ready.
On Sept. 13, commissioners approved zoning regulations for dispensaries and regulations pertaining to any dispensaries that do locate in the city.
In Wilton Manors, dispensaries would be allowed in the Wilton Drive Arts and Entertainment District and B-2, which includes parts of Andrews Avenue, Northeast 26 Street, Oakland Park Boulevard and Dixie Highway. Each dispensary could be no less than 1,000 feet from schools, houses of worship, daycare centers and other dispensaries. Those restrictions would mean a maximum of four dispensaries.
Commissioners had previously inquired about keeping dispensaries at least 1,000 feet away from residential areas but City Attorney Kerry Ezrol said they couldn’t be that restrictive.
The city has passed similar restrictions in the past. Pawn shops are limited to certain areas of the city. Officials don’t consider pawn shops as a desirable type of business and passed the restrictions to ensure only a limited number can open. Cities can restrict the locations where certain types of businesses can open but they can’t outright ban them completely.
Any dispensaries that do open could be shut down for various reasons, including if marijuana is sold for non-medical purposes, the owner or manager is convicted of a felony, the owner, manager or any employee is convicted of a drug-related crime or is a gang member or placed on the terrorist watch list, code violations aren’t corrected within 20 days, and the state license to dispense marijuana is revoked.
The zoning regulations passed unanimously. Commissioners said they needed to place restrictions on where dispensaries can be located or else they risk being opened anywhere in the city. “[If not], they’re going to be on every street corner,” said Vice Mayor Scott Newton.
But the business regulations passed 4-1 with Commissioner Julie Carson dissenting. She called the regulations too onerous and “overreaching.” She also said the regulations would make it harder for people who need medical marijuana to exercise their legal right to do so.
Commissioner Tom Green said he didn’t think the regulations were strict enough. He said marijuana should only be dispensed in a stand-alone dispensary or as part of a medical establishment, such as a clinic or pharmacy.