Pubdate: Mon, 24 Jul 2017
Source: Florida Times-Union (FL)
Copyright: 2017 The Florida Times-Union



ORANGE PARK - Town Council soon will take up whether to lift Orange
Park's moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries, and if so, where
such establishments may open up shop within the town limits.

The Orange Park Planning and Zoning Board voting 3-1 with one member
absent July 13 recommended the council allow such dispensaries
provided they comply with certain conditions. The board's
recommendation is non-binding.

Under Florida law, medical marijuana dispensaries are treated as
pharmacies for zoning purposes. That means wherever a regular pharmacy
is allowed to operate, so is a medical marijuana dispensary.

The Orange Park Planning and Zoning Board recommended that pharmacies
- -- and therefore medical marijuana dispensaries -- be allowed only in
Commercial General, Commercial Intensive and Planned Unit Development
zoning districts in the town.

The board also recommended that a pharmacy/dispensary may not be
located within 500 feet of another pharmacy. However, a variance from
that provision might be allowed depending on the circumstances,
according to the recommendation.

The dispensaries wouldn't be allowed in Commercial Neighborhood zoning
districts. In other words, those businesses wouldn't be allowed in
office spaces or neighborhood stores, Town Attorney Sam Garrison said
after the Planning and Zoning Board meeting.

As a result of the board's recommendation, Garrison is drawing up a
potential ordinance for Town Council consideration. It potentially
could be presented for first and second reading on Aug. 1 and Sept. 5,
according to Assistant Town Manager Sarah Campbell.

Orange Park currently has three pharmacies operating within its town
limits -- two are in Commercial General zoning district and one is in
a Planned Unit Development district, according to Stephen Smith, town
Economic and Community Development director.

Florida voters Nov. 8 overwhelmingly - 71 percent statewide - approved
Amendment 2, which expands medical use of marijuana for people with
debilitating medical conditions. It also authorizes licensed
businesses in Florida to acquire, produce and distribute marijuana for
medical purposes.

Clay County voters passed Amendment 2 with more than 70 percent

The state Legislature in its recent session approved implementation of
the medical marijuana law.

However, Orange Park Town Council, the Clay County Commission, Green
Cove Springs City Council and other Northeast Florida cities and
counties had imposed temporary moratoriums on medical marijuana
dispensaries -- currently still in effect -- as state lawmakers and
local governments sorted out the issue.

Orange Park's council voting unanimously Oct. 18 imposed a one-year
moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries and treatment centers
within town limits.

Clay County Attorney Courtney Grimm said the county's one-year
mortatorium -- adopted Jan. 24 and covering only unincorporated areas
in the county -- is scheduled to expire in January 2018. The County
Commission as yet hasn't said when it wants to revisit the issue, Grimm 

The Green Cove Springs City Council potentially could take up the
issue at its July 25 regular meeting, but its agenda hadn't been set
by the time this article went to press.
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