Miami Beach commissioners began navigating the complicated thicket of marijuana regulations this week as the city’s land use committee considered two ordinances that will regulate where medical marijuana will be sold and who will be allowed to sell it.
The two ordinances deal with zoning and licensure requirements for the dispensaries that could open after May 17 when an extension on a citywide ban on dispensaries that was passed last November expires. Florida voters approved Amendment 2 by 71 percent in the November election. The measure allows people with “debilitating illnesses” like AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress and epilepsy to obtain pot prescriptions.
Under amendment 2, dispensaries are restricted to one per 29,000 residents of a municipality, which will allow three dispensaries to be located on Miami Beach, which has a population of 91,000. Commissioners say there will likely be a dispensary located in South Beach, Mid-Beach and North Beach. But they say any dispensary will likely have to be 1,000 feet away from schools, parks or religious institutions.
The city’s planning department has identified lots fronting Alton Road between 13th Street and 16th Street as a possible location for a dispensary located in South Beach, an area located north of the Julia Tuttle Causeway near Mount Sinai Hospital as a possible Mid-Beach location and an area south of 71st Street and east of Collins Avenue for a possible North Beach dispensary location. Commissioners said an additional location in South Beach along 8th Street and Alton Road might also be considered as a possible South Beach location.
Dispensaries will be limited to 7,500 square feet and will be required to have a certain number of parking spaces. Dispensary operators will have to apply for occupational licenses, undergo background checks and install security alarms and video surveillance equipment on their premises.
The city’s planning board is expected to take up the land use recommendations at its next meeting on February 28, and the city commission will likely vote on the ordinances at its next meeting on March 1. Addressing the complexity of the issue, commissioner Joy Malakoff told the land use committee on Wednesday, “everyone says they want medical marijuana but when you ask them if they want it in their neighborhood they say ‘no.’”