Pubdate: Thu, 09 Oct 2014
Source: Palm Beach Post, The (FL)
Copyright: 2014 The Palm Beach Post
Author: Alexandra Seltzer
Page: A1


City OKs 1-Year Ban on Medical Marijuana in Case Amendment Wins.

BOYNTON BEACH - Boynton Beach is leaning toward a temporary ban on 
medical marijuana businesses, joining several other cities across the 
state, including Boca Raton and North Palm Beach.

The moratoriums are in response to Amendment 2, which if approved by 
voters next month would greatly expand the use of medical marijuana 
across the state.

The Boynton Beach City Commission voted Tuesday to go forward with 
the one-year ban, and will hold two public hearings. Today, North 
Palm Beach will have a first public hearing for a moratorium, also 
for one year.

In most cases, the cities plan the moratorium because they don't know 
what to expect.

"A lot of them maybe decided a moratorium might actually be better so 
they can wait and see if Amendment 2 passes, (see) the rules (the 
Department of Health) puts out and how the Legislature reacts to it," 
said Ryan Padgett, the assistant general counsel for the Florida 
League of Cities. "A lot of cities are trying to do the best they can 
to get ahead of this and at the same time trying to be reasonable in 
how they're approaching it."

While the rules of the approved "Charlotte's Web" use of medical 
marijuana, which was passed in May, are clear, Padgett said Amendment 2 is not.

"Charlotte's Web" will go into effect Jan. 1, and five large 
nurseries across the state will be licensed to grow and distribute 
the medical marijuana, largely in pill and liquid form. The strain of 
cannabis approved is non-euphoric. It is used to treat pain from 
cancer and cancer treatments, seizures and epilepsy.

Each nursery will pay $150,000 for the license and post a $5 million 
bond. It's not clear with Amendment 2 how many dispensaries would be 
allowed. 'A lot to consider'

"Unknown is how many of these do we want to have. But at the same 
time, the (Department of Health) or the Legislature probably have to 
comply with what they're trying to do with Amendment 2, which is to 
allow greater access," Padgett said.

Places in Florida either looking at or having passed the ban include 
Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach and North Palm Beach in Palm 
Beach County, Titusville in Brevard County, Eustis in Lake County and 
Naples in Collier County.

Coconut Creek in Broward County was among the first to pass a 
moratorium. Coconut Creek Mayor Lisa Aronson said the discussion 
started when she was asked by Realtors if the city was making 
preparations for where the businesses could open. Staff started a 
study and decided a moratorium would be best.

The city has been approached by a prospective medical marijuana 
business owner, who is involved in the business in Colorado. Also, 
two nurseries in Coconut Creek were at one point on the statewide 
list of possible dispensaries.

"It's really giving the staff time to evaluate appropriate locations 
where potential medical marijuana dispensaries could be located," Aronson said.

Boynton Beach Mayor Jerry Taylor said the moratorium will give the 
city time to watch what happens.

"So we know what the state says and we can adjust the zoning," Taylor 
said. "We're just giving ourselves time to see what the state does 
and we can react to that."

Vice Mayor Joe Casello, who said he is in favor of medical marijuana, 
mentioned at a commission meeting months ago the topic should be 
discussed. On Tuesday he said he is concerned about the locations of 
the dispensaries.

"I think medical marijuana used in the right context is a great tool. 
What I'm not for is somebody stubbing a toe and going into these 
places getting relief for a stubbed toe," Casello said. "There's a 
lot to consider here."

Commissioner David Merker said the drug should be sold in pharmacies.

The pill-mill effect

Cities across Florida have asked the League of Cities how to handle 
medical marijuana, Padgett said. He added some are comparing it to 
the pill-mill explosion in the state.

"I haven't heard anyone say medical marijuana is like OxyContin or 
anything else. The issue is ... pill mills for cities; it just 
created some logistical headaches," Padgett said. "You had a lot of 
people coming in from out of state. I think that's really the issue: 
we don't know what this is going to turn into."

North Palm Beach Mayor Darryl Aubrey said the moratorium the council 
will discuss today is "primarily a precautionary measure."

The village is looking at a ban on issuing approvals for operation of 
dispensaries or treatment centers for one year.

Boca Raton will hold the first of two public hearings for a one-year 
moratorium Wednesday. Delray Beach will consider a one-year 
moratorium at a first public hearing Oct. 21.

"Delray, like many other communities, is concerned about how this new 
industry might fit into the current zoning districts within the 
city," said Delray Beach City Attorney Noel Pfeffer. "Which is 
exactly why you have a moratorium - to evaluate how and where this 
might be appropriate."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom