Jacksonville Beach could get a medical marijuana dispensary as early as this summer, after the city considered banning providers from setting up shop. Two cannabis industry giants are eyeing properties within blocks of each other.
Medmen Enterprises and Zen Leaf, a subsidiary the Chicago-based Verano Holding, have both filed applications to open what would be the first dispensary in Jacksonville Beach.
Right now, many patients who live there rely on home deliveries. But at a Jacksonville Beach Planning Commission hearing, MedMen attorney Tara Tedrow said some prefer brick and mortar locations.
“It’s a really good opportunity for patients to have a safe and secure environment, in which they can feel comfortable asking questions, especially as we all know this is a new area in the state of Florida,” she said.
Voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment that legalized medical marijuana in 2016 and lawmakers implemented the legislation in 2017, but allowed local municipalities to either regulate dispensaries like traditional pharmacies or outright prohibit them.
That year, Jacksonville Beach City Council initially voted to ban dispensaries, but backtracked after a public outcry. Among those who spoke out was Ashley Peebles, an advocate who works at the Jacksonville-based medical marijuana provider VidaCann.
“Having dispensaries in a neighborhood creates more jobs, brings people into town, and high security,” he said.
California-based MedMen Enterprise plans to purchase and renovate the former Thirty Three Clothing store on 3rd Street. It’s waiting on a permit after winning city approval in December. MedMen Enterprise hopes to open by June.
Zen Leaf is also looking to open a store on Beach Boulevard in the former Jaxon Social space and is already advertising online.
MedMen also wants to open another location on a busy corner in Five Points this year.