Pubdate: Fri, 08 Dec 2017
Source: Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Copyright: 2017 Sun-Sentinel Company
Author: Anne Geggis


Have they opened Pandora's box? Some Deerfield Beach city leaders
worry that's what they might've done by allowing marijuana
dispensaries in the city.

They're now trying to stop medical dispensaries from clustering
citywide by keeping them out of commercial areas that also have homes,
as well as setting rules to stop them from opening next to one another.

Mayor Bill Ganz said he doesn't want the city to become known as the
place to buy pot, even if it's just the medical kind that doesn't get
you high.

"This gives us a little more protection, or at least a way to stop the
high concentration of these businesses," Ganz said of city rules
approved Tuesday.

The shops have been slow to appear in South Florida.

Because the medical marijuana business operates in a legal gray area
- -- allowed by the state but against federal rules -- it's a cash-only

Miami has a few shops. Not one has opened in Broward County. Knox
Medical, which opened in Lake Worth last month, was Palm Beach
County's first medical marijuana dispensary. It ran out of its product
- -- sold in vaping cartridges and oral oils -- on its first day, a
spokesman said.

Unlike Deerfield Beach, cities such as Delray Beach, Boca Raton and
Fort Lauderdale have enacted bans or extended temporary moratoriums to
keep away the pot stores.

Based on other cities' opposition to dispensaries, Deerfield Beach
Commissioner Joe Miller is considering whether his city should reverse
its decision in August to allow them.

Maybe other cities "were wiser than we were at first," Miller

Miller said he voted in favor of the dispensaries last August,
swallowing concerns of how the cash-only businesses might be the wrong
kind of draw.

He said he thought it was the compassionate thing to do for patients
who have cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, post-traumatic stress
disorder, Lou Gehrig's disease, Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease,
multiple sclerosis or similar conditions.

Miller said he didn't know at the time patients can get home delivery
of their marijuana prescriptions.

"I would be up for a new ordinance banning shops now that we realize
if we restrict it, the people would still have access to it," Miller

If Deerfield is one of the only cities with shops, "we're going to get
people from Boca, Pompano, all over," Miller said at a meeting Tuesday.

Commissioner Todd Drosky agreed, saying he thought Miller "is on to
something here."

But the discussion drew a fiery response from Commissioner Bernie
Parness, who chided commissioners spooked by actions in other cities
as "childish."

Relief from pain may not be around the corner for those seeking pain
relief with marijuana. Never mind that nearly three-fourths of
Florida's voters agreed pot should be legal for medical use.

"You are protecting us against what?" he said. "A legal store selling
a legal product to ease pain, children with epilepsy, people with
brain cancer?

"I stand with backbone and say, 'People who are suffering deserve
relief and they deserve it in the city they live in,'" he added.

State voters approved legalizing medical marijuana with Amendment 2
last November. Seventy-six percent of Deerfield Beach's voters said
yes to medical marijuana.

State legislators gave cities just two options -- ban dispensaries
outright or allow them with rules no more restrictive than they impose
on corner drug stores.

This week, Deerfield Beach commissioners gave initial approval to
limiting dispensaries and regular commercial pharmacies to certain
commercial areas, excluding areas such as office parks, a strip along
the city's Intracoastal Waterway and areas where stores and homes co-exist.

Also, dispensaries and pharmacies, such as CVS and Walgreens, can open
no closer than 1,000 feet from one another, according to the new rules.

Medical marijuana dispensaries have been allowed in the unincorporated
parts of both Broward and Palm Beach counties, among other locations.

The issue is still being ironed out in several communities.

Margate, which OK'd a four-month extension of its yearlong moratorium,
has scheduled a Monday workshop to draft rules for allowing medical
pot shops.

Coconut Creek and Hollywood had rules to allow the dispensaries in
certain zones, but that was before the Legislature drafted rules that
made the cities' restrictions illegal.

Coconut Creek will be updating its rules for pot shops at its Dec. 14
meeting. Vice Mayor Joshua Rydell said it's in keeping with voters'

"I think the voters spoke -- especially in our county," he said,
noting the 76 percent of Broward County voters who approved of medical
marijuana was higher than the 71 percent support it received statewide.

In Palm Beach County, 75 percent of voters approved medical
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