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Commissioners Okay Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers in Unincorporated Broward

COMMISSIONER HOLNESS

COMMISSIONER HOLNESS

Commissioners Okay Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers in Unincorporated Broward

By Kimberly Maroe

      An ordinance regulating medical marijuana dispensaries in the unincorporated Broward Municipal Services District (BMSD) has been approved by County Commissioners.  The Board simultaneously voted against a proposed 180 day moratorium on the issuance of any medical marijuana treatment center permits in the BMSD.

The ordinance follows Florida’s Medical Marijuana Bill stipulating that medical marijuana treatment centers fall under the same zoning requirements as pharmacies. The new ordinance prohibits dispensaries within 500 feet of schools and establishes parking requirements. Commissioners Barbara Sharief, Steve Geller, Nan Rich and Michael Udine favored moving forward with the ordinance. “I have visited facilities that are up and operable,” Commissioner Sharief noted. “They are truly safe-guarded they are very highly regulated.” Commissioner Geller stated that he did not want to “kick the can down the road” another 180 days and instead argued for moving forward with the proposed regulations to “respect the will of the voters.”

COMMISSIONER RICH

COMMISSIONER RICH

Commissioner Rich spoke firmly against any ban or moratorium noting that the decision to legalize medical marijuana “was the people’s action” and said “it’s our responsibility to implement what the voters said overwhelmingly in this community that they wanted.” Commissioner Udine also referenced the overwhelming support medical marijuana received from voters and argued that such facilities could provide economic development to areas that need it. “These are highly regulated business companies that are going to go where the economic development makes sense for them to go” Commissioner Udine stated. “I think there’s a different perception to what this actually is,” said Udine.

The debate over the location of medical marijuana treatment centers in the BMSD has continued in commission meetings and public hearings since medical marijuana was overwhelmingly approved by voters in November 2016.  Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness, who sponsored the moratorium, argued that many residents within the unincorporated areas do not support dispensaries and pushed for a moratorium in order to “take a closer look and really hear the voice of the community and its leaders.” Commissioner Tim Ryan also voted in favor of the moratorium, stating that “we’ll be going in the wrong direction to allow the medical marijuana dispensing facilities in these areas when all of the surrounding cities say no.”     Com-missioner Chip LaMarca noted the potential “damage and destruction of illegal drug dealing or use, let alone the large a-mounts of cash” handled at dispensaries.
Commissioners voted 6-2 in favor of the ordinance rather than a moratorium. Commissioners Dale V.C. Holness and Tim Ryan voted against the ordinance in preference of a 180 day moratorium. Vice Mayor Mark Bogen was not present.

 

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