Miami Beach enacts four-month ban on medical marijuana retail shops

Landlords and real estate brokers planning to rake in rent money from pot dispensaries, in the wake of Florida voters approving medical marijuana by 71 percent, will have to wait a little longer in Miami Beach.

The hugely popular Amendment 2 requires state officials to wait 60 days to create rules for the medical marijuana industry, including dispensaries that sell cannabis to patients.

But on Wednesday, Miami Beach city commissioners voted 5-1 to initiate a four-month moratorium on retail pot businesses. Commissioner Ricky Arriola, who is sponsoring the measure, said the legislation allows the city time to craft regulations that will determine where dispensaries can be located, hours of operation, and any permissible fines for marijuana businesses that don’t comply with city code.

Arriola came up with the idea for a temporary ban to address the issue now before residents and businesses start complaining about medical pot retailers operating next door to them. “I voted in favor of this myself,” he said. “I don’t want to go against the will of the people.”

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Commissioner Michael Grieco voted against the moratorium because it appears the city is ignoring a majority of Miami Beach voters who cast ballots for medical marijuana. Grieco also noted state officials may enact rules that supercede anything Miami Beach passes.

“We should do this smart,” Grieco said. “‘The state could come out and say we are going to circumvent all local rules on this.”

Delray Beach and Boca Raton have also placed a temporary ban on medical marijuana dispensaries, and Palm Beach County overall has been looking into how zoning regulations would apply to a dispensary. Earlier this year, Orange County put a nine-month moratorium on development permits for medical marijuana shops in unincorporated parts of the county.

Tracking real estate transactions involving legal pot retail shops and warehouses where marijuana is manufactured is still unchartered territory. However, CBRE recently reported that asking lease rates for industrial warehouses in northern Colorado, where the state raked in $996 million in marijuana tax revenue last year, reached $8.40 per square foot in the first half of 2016.

And there are firms like Manhattan real estate company Kalyx Development that specialize in leasing properties to indoor cannabis growers in states that have rapidly expanding legal marijuana markets.