Jax City Council Repeals Marijuana Moratorium, Expands Backyard Chicken Program

Jun 23, 2015

The last meeting for the current City Council ran more than five hours Tuesday evening. The new Council takes office July 1.
Credit Ray Hollister / WJCT News

The Jacksonville City Council met for the last time Tuesday before newly-elected members take their seats July 1.

The Council voted to throw out an emergency marijuana ordinance it passed two weeks ago. The measure put a hold on growing, processing and dispensing legal, medical marijuana in Jacksonville for six months.

Last year, Florida legalized non-euphoric marijuana for medical purposes. The non-smoked cannabis is sometimes prescribed to kids who suffer from seizures.

This month, the Jacksonville City Council enacted a moratorium on the growing or dispensing of that cannabis. The emergency measure put up roadblocks for any Duval nursery planning to apply for a state license to grow. Only one nursery in Northeast Florida  can be picked, under state law.

After getting pushback, the Council agreed to consider a new bill Tuesday. Councilwoman Lori Boyer says, "It's going to go through a regular two-cycle public hearing process, and, as it's written, allows 180 days for the moratorium and only applies to the dispensing facilities.”

The new measure would not delay growing the medicine, and it would not go into effect until August at the earliest, if voted in.

Boyer says the purpose of a moratorium is to give the Council time regulate where dispensaries can operate, and she says she wants to shorten the length of the moratorium from six months to four months.

A public hearing on the new bill is scheduled for July 28.

CHICKENS

About a dozen concerned citizens sat through five hours of the meeting to speak at a hearing to keep their chickens.

City Council unanimously voted in favor of the chicken ordinance. It extends a 2013 pilot program that permits backyard hens in certain residential areas. Neighborhoods can now choose to opt in or out of the program.

SECTARIAN PRAYER

But public comments at the meeting were dominated by people for and against the practice of sectarian prayer at City Council meetings. Most meetings begin with a Christian prayer.