The Jacksonville Beach City Council has taken a step toward banning medical marijuana dispensaries from setting up shop in the beachfront city.
Although the ban passed its first reading last week with a 4-3 vote in favor of prohibiting the dispensaries, the final vote is not expected until after a second read later this month.
Florida’s newest medical marijuana expansion allows local municipalities to either regulate dispensaries like traditional pharmacies or outright ban them. More than two-thirds of state voters approved a constitutional amendment last year expanding state law to include fully psychoactive pot, which causes users to get high.
Councilmember Chris Hoffman voted against the ban. “I think we’re overestimating the volume that this looks like because also the production is pretty limited in Florida as well so there’s only going to be so much product available,” she said. “I do think we need to make it available to our citizens.”
She added Jacksonville Beach has an extensive medical community and people who could immediately benefit from the access.
But the Jacksonville Beach Planning Commission recommended prohibiting the dispensaries and the majority of council members followed suit. Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham was one of those votes. He says although 81 percent of Florida residents voted in favor of medical marijuana, that doesn’t mean the majority of his constituents want a dispensary in their neighborhood.
“We’ve been given the legislative ability through the state to make a decision about how to move forward with this,” he said. “The communities around us are making the same decisions. We’re a small community, we’re very densely inhabited and there’s not going to be too many places we can put a pharmacy where it’s not going to have an impact on people that don’t really want it there.”
The city had approved a moratorium on the dispensaries last year. Council will revisit the bill next Monday before final approval.
Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at@lindskilbride.