Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Where Does Marco Island Stand on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries?


On October 14, 2014, Marco Island City Council passed a resolution opposing Amendment 2 and limiting points of sale/distribution.

On November 2, 2016, Amendment 2 or The Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative was approved by voters, with more than 71% of Florida voters approving the legalization of medical marijuana.

On March 6, 2017, Marco Island City Council heard the First Reading of an Ordinance Establishing a Twelve Month Moratorium for the Establishment or Operation of Medical Marijuana Facilities. A motion was made by Councilor Charlette Roman and seconded by Councilor Howard Reed. No vote was taken on this motion.

In 2017, the Florida Legislature passed a law that defined medical use to exclude usage of marijuana in a smokable form or as seed or flower except in a sealed, tamper proof cartridge for vaping.

On December 12, 2018, more than two years after the passage of Amendment 2, Collier County Commissioners voted NOT to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in Collier County. It takes a supermajority vote of four (out of five) commissioners to allow dispensaries in Collier County with Commissioners Penny Taylor and Donna Fiala voting “Nay.”

On March 18, 2019, Governor Ron DeSantis signed the first bill of his administration into law, SB-182, “Medical Use of Marijuana” (Ch. 2019-1SB182, Laws of Florida). His signature lifted the ban on the sale of smokable medical marijuana to qualified patients by licensed dispensaries. This bill overrides the legislature’s previous bill to ban smokable medical marijuana.

Gov. DeSantis remarked, as he signed the bill, “I thank my colleagues in the legislature for working to ensure the will of the voters is upheld.”

Under the new law, smokable medical marijuana would not be available to anyone under 18 unless the patient is terminally ill and if two doctors approve. Among other limitations, it could not be smoked in public or at private businesses subject to a cigarette smoking ban.

During its January 24, 2019 meeting, Collier County Commissioners changed their approach by seeking legislative support for two proposals on medical marijuana: to establish the state guidelines as a minimum set of rules and with municipalities free to have more stringent dispensary guidelines. For example, if the state guidelines say, “Dispensaries are not allowed within 500 feet from a school,” local authorities could impose a restriction of 1,000 feet.

Collier County Commissioners are also proposing a change in the way medical marijuana sales tax will be distributed. Currently, the State of Florida may send some of it back to the county or city. Commissioner William McDaniel is proposing an 80-20 split, with the state keeping 20% and 80% going to counties/municipalities to be spent on programs for substance abuse and rehabilitation.

Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried, whose campaign was known for her strong support of smokable medical marijuana stated, “Our state must not disregard the voice of the people – when the people’s will is nullified by those in authority, liberty cannot survive.” Collier County Commissioners have yet to honor the will of the voters to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in Collier County.

On May 20, 2019, Marco Island City Councilor Larry Honig submitted a White Paper “Understanding Local Government Authority on Medical Marijuana” for discussion only.

One response to “Where Does Marco Island Stand on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries?”

  1. Ernest Zuccarelli says:

    Are we a bunch of children? What was the purpose of voting? How can local governments ignore the will of the people? “WE THE PEOPLE” seems to have been forgotten! This is not how a democracy works!

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