In a progressive effort to allow for medical marijuana dispensaries in Broward and Palm Beach counties, the commissioners are planning to make the dispensaries unincorporated parts of the counties. Following their voter’s wishes, they will begin treating the dispensaries like pharmacies by bringing back an ordinance that would allow them in the parts of the county that aren’t within a city. Do you think this is a step in the right direction? Do you foresee any issues with this approach? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Medical marijuana dispensaries — on hold or banned in many South Florida cities — will be welcome in the unincorporated parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Broward commissioners said Tuesday they aren’t going to question the wisdom of voters who overwhelmingly approved the state’s medical marijuana referendum in November. Since then, the state has given local governments two choices: Ban the dispensaries where people with prescriptions go to get medical marijuana or treat the dispensaries just like pharmacies.
The commission directed staff Tuesday to bring back an ordinance that would permit them in the parts of the county that aren’t in a city.
More than a dozen Broward cities are still deciding how they will treat medical marijuana within their borders. Palm Beach County will take a final vote on Thursday on allowing dispensaries in its unincorporated areas.
Some residents from Boulevard Gardens, an area between Sistrunk and Broward boulevards west of Fort Lauderdale, said they didn’t want the dispensaries near them because drugs have plagued their economically disadvantaged communities.
“My only plea today to the commission is that you consider the location and impose strict and stringent regulations governing and policing these facilities, considering the communities that abut them and their present status when it comes to crime,” said Jessie Scipio, president of the Boulevard Gardens homeowner association.
While Commissioner Dale Holness, who represents that area, said he could not support the dispensaries because of the neighborhood opposition, other commissioners said they respect the will of the voters.
“I do know that there are serious medical benefits from this,” Commissioner Michael Udine said. “I speak to seniors all the time who want access to this and by banning it all over the place we’re kind of shutting that down.”
Mayor Barbara Sharief said there’s a big difference between what will be provided through prescriptions and marijuana that is purchased illegally. The law doesn’t allow medical marijuana to be smoked.
“They’re not drugs like you get in a baggie on the street.” Sharief said. “We’re not voting to approve that type of substance right now.”
Ten of 31 Broward cities have already put bans in place or plan to, according to a county survey: Cooper City, Davie, Hillsboro Beach, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Lighthouse Point, Parkland, Pembroke Pines, Plantation, Sea Ranch Lakes and Southwest Ranches.
Another 13 have had moratoriums in effect while they decide what to do, the survey showed: Coral Springs, Lauderdale Lakes, Lauderhill, Margate, Miramar, North Lauderdale, Oakland Park, Pembroke Park, Pompano Beach, Sunrise, Tamarac, West Park and Weston. There are moratoriums in Delray Beach, Boca Raton and West Palm Beach.
Only seven cities so far have designated areas or are considering where they can be placed, it said: Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Coconut Creek, Dania Beach, Deerfield Beach, Hallandale Beach and Wilton Manors.
The county proposal, if approved, also would allow dispensaries in three other general areas:
— Central County: On Sunrise Boulevard between Northwest 31st and Northwest 24th avenues; on Southwest 27th Avenue between Sunrise and Broward boulevards; and Broward Boulevard between Northwest 31st and Northwest 27th avenues. Other areas would be the northeast corner of Broward Boulevard and Northwest 25th Terrace. Also on Northwest 31st Avenue near Northwest 13th Street.
— Broadview Park: On U.S. 441 generally between Davie Boulevard and Interstate 595, and one parcel at Davie Boulevard Extension and Peters Road.
— Hillsboro Pines: On the east side of U.S. 441 between the northern Broward County border and Loxahatchee Road.
The commission also plans to create a Medical Marijuana Advisory Board. The 12-member board is to include education, law enforcement, business, health, consumer and industry representatives.