Pubdate: Thu, 09 Oct 2014
Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2014 Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Author: Michael Pollick


Sarasota County government has drafted an ordinance that would give 
commissioners control over where medical marijuana establishments 
could be located if Amendment 2 passes on Nov. 4.

The ordinance, slated to be fully passed on Election Day, marks the 
first at a county level in Southwest Florida regarding medical marijuana.

Because it would apply only to unincorporated areas, it would not 
impact the cities of Sarasota, Venice or North Port.

"The county would be able to look at each request (for a 
marijuana-related business) on a case-by-case basis," said county 
spokesman Jason Bartalone, regarding the proposed ordinance.

"Should medical marijuana pass on Election Day, the commissioners 
want to have some regulations in place already to help limit the 
impact to some of the surrounding areas," Bartalone said.

Some of the proposed regulations in the ordinance are similar to 
those put into place earlier this month in the City of Palmetto in 
Manatee County. That ordinance covers the amount of distance from 
schools, day care centers, parks and beaches medical marijuana 
dispensaries must be and prohibits drive-through operations.

The county's proposed ordinance comes as a number of Florida 
municipalities are passing rules to restrict marijuana-related 
businesses in advance of the Nov. 4 vote.

Palmetto and others contend enacting rules at the city level might be 
more difficult if Amendment 2 to the state constitution passes.

Palmetto's ordinance bars marijuana-related businesses from its 
downtown, but leaves open the possibility that dispensaries or grow 
facilities could do business in areas zoned for heavy commercial or 
light industrial use.

In advancing its ordinance, Palmetto became the first muncipality on 
the west coast of Florida to restrict potential cannabis activity in 
advance of the vote.

The Sarasota County ordinance, by contrast, would segregate medical 
marijuana cultivation, processing and retail operations by putting 
each in their own zoning district.

Marijuana dispensaries could be situated in office or commercial 
areas, but they would not be allowed in any office building that 
already is occupied by a medical-related tenant.

Like in Palmetto, the county ordinance also would prohibit marijuana 
dispensaries from operating drive-thrus, Bartalone said.

Additionally, the ordinance would require marijuana-related 
businesses to be 500 feet or more away from schools, day care 
centers, houses of worship, public parks or public beaches.

It would also prohibit loitering in the parking areas of medical 
marijuana businesses.

An initial public hearing on the ordinance was held Wednesday, and a 
required second reading is scheduled for Nov. 4, the same day as the 
statewide election.

If the ordinance passes then, it would likely become county law 
effective immediately.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom