ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla. (WFLA) – The use of medical marijuana was just given the green light by Florida voters last month. Now, several cities and counties across the bay area want to ban those dispensaries, at least temporarily.
Like it or not, medical marijuana is legal in Florida. But, some local governments don’t like that idea.
“There’s still federal restrictions over the sale of marijuana. It’s still a federal offense to sell it. But we need to be able to decide do we want it next to a C2 zone, do we want it next to a church?,” said Steven Spinna, Zephyrhills City Manager.
The argument is over zoning concerns.
“You don’t want them in certain areas, we have commercial zones in school zones. You probably don’t want dispensaries in a school zone,” said Spinna.
Those for medical pot maintain that local governments are approaching this all wrong.
“Local governments shouldn’t be retreating in fear, they should be embracing this industry in order to help develop the local cities,” said Chris Cano, Executive Director, Central Florida NORML.
Statistics show it is a money maker. “The Cannabist” shows it made the state of Colorado more than $296 million this year.
Zephyrhills city leaders know a lot of people need the drug. They worry sales could get out of hand.
“We have a pretty, higher than average, senior population, if medical marijuana is useful for a lot of pain or different treatments, it could very possibly be kind of prominent here,” said Spinna.
It’s another worry that some call irrelevant.
“The fears that there will be a pot shop on every corner, don’t come to fruition,” said Cano.
State lawmakers say there can’t be a pot shop on every corner because it’s a highly regulated business and at this point, there are only five nurseries in the whole state of Florida.
So far, cities who want bans include Zephyrhills, Pasco County, Bradenton, and Manatee County.
Hillsborough County has a temporary ban in place but that will be lifted in April.