FL: Escambia County Scraps Marijuana Moratorium


The Escambia County Board of County Commissioners will not move forward with a year-long moratorium that would have stopped medical marijuana dispensaries from opening in the unincorporated parts of the county.

Setting the moratorium to the side, commissioners voted 5-0 Thursday night to direct county staff to come back with an ordinance to regulate dispensaries that are currently allowable under state law. The vote was specifically concerned with dispensaries as they are currently allowed, leaving open the possibility for further regulation should the Florida voters move to widely expand the availability of medical marijuana later this year. Amendment 2 on the November ballot would allow doctors to prescribe euphoric marijuana for patients with cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, “or other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated.”

“The concerns I have are much more related to how this moves forward,” said commission chairman Grover Robinson.

The proposal for a year-long moratorium – first brought by Robinson to give county staff time to fit dispensaries into the county’s zoning laws – faced significant opposition from members of the public who turned out Thursday to tell commissioners to scrap the idea.

“I don’t know your reasoning for proposing this regulation, I think it was something about zoning, but with all do respect, I really don’t care,” Alice Downs said. “… To keep medical marijuana from our sick and dying citizens, I think, is cruel, especially for the sake of zoning.”

In discussing the possibility of the moratorium Thursday morning, commissioner Doug Underhill said it would have little effect.

“It’s already going to be 11 months, assuming that the voters go to the approve side in November,” Underhill said. “We’re already talking about 11 months before it could be implemented, so under the principal that the government that governs the least governs the best, it seems odd that we would want to go with a moratorium.”

The Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 legalized the use of non-euphoric medical marijuana to treat a handful of medical conditions, including epilepsy and cancer. A law passed last year expanded the number of eligible patients and opened the way for terminally-ill patients to access euphoric marijuana as well. Six nurseries have been approved by the state’s Department of Health to grow medical marijuana, and a seventh is awaiting a judge’s order on issuance of a license to grow.

Plans were recently announced for a medical marijuana dispensary to open within Pensacola city limits. For zoning considerations, the city is treating medical marijuana dispensaries as though they are pharmacies.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Escambia County Scraps Marijuana Moratorium
Author: Will Isern
Contact: 850-435-8500
Photo Credit: Joe Rondone
Website: Pensacola News Journal