High times: Miami City Commission approves Midtown Miami cannabis dispensary

Ayr Wellness won appeal authorizing certificate of use inside retail building owned by Michael Comras

Midtown Miami Cannabis Dispensary Gets Green Light
Ayr Wellness' David Goubert and Comras Company's Michael Comras with 3160 North Miami Avenue (LinkedIn, Comras Company, Google Maps, Getty)

A medical marijuana company got the green light to open a store in a Midtown Miami retail building owned by Michael Comras. 

The Miami City Commission on Thursday voted 3-2 to uphold a certificate of use issued to Miami-based Ayr Wellness by the city’s planning and zoning appeals board in 2022. The city’s zoning office had requested that the elected body overturn the board’s decision because Miami staff are still ironing out proposed regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries. 

Commissioner Joe Carollo, who along with his colleague Manolo Reyes voted no, warned that approving Ayr Wellness’ certificate of use would create a “Cheech & Chong” atmosphere and lead to more Miami residents driving under the influence of marijuana.

“It’s going to be a free-for-all over Miami,” Carollo said. 

Reyes told his fellow commissioners he’s worried about people who don’t have diseases or illnesses getting fraudulent medical marijuana cards, and cannabis edibles possibly being sold to children. He insisted the city of Miami should enact regulations for medical marijuana retail stores before approving any dispensaries. 

“It is quite easy to obtain a card,” Reyes said. “That is the problem that I have. This is going to be used and abused.” 

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Florida law stipulates that physicians may not prescribe more than 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana, or a 35-day supply, to each patient. Doctors can only issue cards to patients who have a qualifying medical condition such as cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, AIDs or a terminal illness. Ayr Wellness is among 25 companies that currently have state licenses to cultivate and sell medical cannabis. Florida currently has 590 dispensaries, according to the state’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use. 

Most Florida cities and counties have enacted zoning regulations that limit where medical marijuana dispensaries are allowed to open. Some local governments including Boca Raton, Coral Springs, Margate, Tamarac and Pembroke Pines, have passed permanent bans against cannabis retail outlets. 

Miami, on the other hand, has dragged out proposed legislation for medical marijuana based on an opinion by City Attorney Victoria Mendez that federal law prohibiting and criminalizing cannabis use supersedes the 2016 constitutional amendment that allows Floridians to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. 

In 2022, the Miami City Commission approved the first certificate of use for a medical marijuana dispensary at a downtown Miami property owned by real estate investors Marc Roberts and Romie Chaudhari. At the time, Roberts and Chaudhari had a pending lawsuit against the city for refusing to issue the certificate of use. 

A federal judge ruled that Florida’s medical marijuana law gives cities the authority to regulate or ban dispensaries. 

At Thursday’s meeting, the Miami City Commission deferred a vote on proposed medical marijuana regulations, as well as approving certificates of use for a handful of other dispensaries, including a proposed store in a MiMo District retail building that is also owned by Comras.