Miami Beach commissioners on Wednesday voted not to extend a four-month ban on medical marijuana dispensaries past May 17, when the current ban expires.
Saying “the people have voted,” Mayor Phillip Levine said I don’t think we need to slow things down.” Commissioners voted in January to extend a ban on dispensaries that they had first passed following Florida voters approval of Amendment 2 by 71 percent last November. The measure allows people with debilitating illnesses like AIDS, Cancer and epilepsy to obtain prescriptions for marijuana.
Levine and commissioners Michael Grieco, Kristen Rosen Gonzalez and Mickey Steinberg voted to lift the dispensary ban, while commissioners Joy Malakoff, Ricky Arriola and John Elizabeth Alemán voted to extend the moratorium.
The move sets the stage for the city’s land use committee to review regulations and possible locations for marijuana dispensaries when it meets next Wednesday. After that, the city’s planning board is expected to take up the matter at its next meeting on Feb. 28.
Under Amendment 2, dispensaries are restricted to one per 29,000 residents of a municipality, which would allow three dispensaries to be located on Miami Beach, which has a population of 91,000 residents. Commissioner Grieco said on Wednesday that based on discussions he has had with state legislators, the business of setting up marijuana dispensaries in Florida will be restricted to seven companies with proven track records on the field.
Miami Beach is not the only city to have placed a moratorium on setting up dispensaries. Delray Beach and Boca Raton enacted similar moratoriums following the November vote and many municipal and county governments in the state have been studying how to control the growth of dispensaries through zoning regulations.