Collier County denies zoning designation for medical marijuana shops but may need an ordinance to ban them

State rules require local governments to ban dispensaries or allow them under the zoning designations similar to those for pharmacies

Jun.June 09, 2018 05:30 PM

A medical marijuana dispensary in Orlando

Collier County commissioners rejected a zoning designation for medical marijuana dispensaries similar to the one for pharmacies in the county’s land development code.

But Jeffrey Sharkey, co-founder and executive director of the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida, said the county’s action did not result in a new ordinance, so it may not legally qualify as a ban under state law.

Sharkey told the Naples Daily News that state law requires local governments that want to ban medical marijuana dispensaries “to take an affirmative action. It’s not a default position.”

A majority of Florida voters, including more than 64 percent of voters in Collier County, voted in 2016 for an amendment to the state’s constitution legalizing medical marijuana for people with certain diseases and conditions.

In 2017, state lawmakers enacted rules for the distribution of medical marijuana through dispensaries.

The rules require local governments to ban dispensaries or allow them under the same zoning designations for pharmacies, except that dispensaries must be at least 500 feet from a school.

Collier County commissioners rejected a proposal to designate dispensaries as an allowable use of land in the county’s land development code. But they may review their decision in fall.

The commissioners directed county staff to assess the needs medical marijuana patients in the county and to share their findings in six months. [Naples Daily News] – Mike Seemuth

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