When the Florida Legislature passed legislation earlier this year implementing the growing and selling of medical marijuana, it gave cities and counties in the state two choices for dispensing the marijuana: either allow the dispensaries in any commercial zoning where pharmacies would be allowed or ban them altogether.
Faced with that choice, the Apopka City Council will consider an ordinance to ban medical marijuana dispensaries inside the city limits.
The proposed ordinance will first be voted on by the Apopka Planning Commission at its meeting on Tuesday, August 8, and then the City Council will vote on the first of two necessary public hearings on August 16. It will go up for final approval on September 6.
Apopka Police Deputy Chief Randy Fernandez said the city wanted to allow medical marijuana dispensaries only in the areas where the city has already designated that the marijuana can be grown and processed for distribution, but the state law negates that city desire.
The city has an ordinance on the books that restricts the areas where marijuana may be grown to be along parts of the Keene Road area, and in the Plymouth area, mostly west of State Road 429 and south of U.S. Highway 441.
Because nearby cities such as Winter Garden have already enacted a ban of the medical marijuana dispensaries and towns like Maitland and Winter Park are considering bans, Apopka might be left alone in allowing the dispensaries if the city didn’t act to ban them.
“If you ban it all around us and we do nothing, then clearly we are going to be the depository for dispensaries,” Fernandez said.
Currently, the city has a moratorium on establishing dispensaries, but that ends by the last day of August, Fernandez said.
The deputy police chief was quick to point out that Apopka police aren’t attempting to keep the dispensaries from opening but that the city wants to regulate them more closely than the state law allows.
The full story is in the Friday, August 4, issue of The Apopka Chief, available at multiple locations in the Apopka area.