Boca Raton Considers MMJ Moratorium


With less than five weeks until November’s election, many in Florida are expecting Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana in the state, to pass. Although some of the polls coming out of the state seem to indicate a closer race, most polls put Amendment 2 as passing with 60 to 80 percent of the vote. In anticipation of the seemingly inevitable passage of Amendment 2, some towns in South Florida are already looking to pass rules regarding medical marijuana in advance of the bill.

A one-year moratorium on medical marijuana is being considered by the Boca Raton city council. Not everyone is excited about legalizing medical marijuana, and a ban like this would not be unprecedented. Boca Raton is known for banning traditional car dealerships where the cars are outside lining the side of the road.

While it may seem like Boca Raton is just anti-cannabis, Assistant City Manager Mike Woika insists that’s not the case.”We want to see what comes up and try to get some rules out there. There’s currently nothing in the city code about locations for marijuana dispensing operations,” Woika told Sun Sentinel. There are many citizens who would not feel comfortable with a medical marijuana dispensary being within proximity to a school or residential area.

Should the measure pass, Florida has six months to come up with the regulatory framework. A blue ribbon panel comprised of cannabis proponents and opponents will come up with the regulation. What those rules will look like is anyone’s guess, leaving many towns like Boca Raton to preemptively legislate.

Another town that is currently considering a cannabis moratorium is Coconut Creek, although their ban would only be for six months as opposed to a year. Like Boca, the citizens of Coconut Creek aren’t necessarily anti-cannabis, but rather they want to make sure medical marijuana is implemented in their town their way.

Coconut Creek Mayor Lisa Aronson spoke with Sun Sentinel about the moratorium. “It’s about figuring out what the best place for those kinds of businesses is,” Aronson said. “Your neighbor could literally be growing medical marijuana inside their home. … There are a lot of questions and concerns like that,” she added.

Although no one likes to see a marijuana ban, no matter how temporary, it is good to see towns in Florida not only accept medical marijuana but also figure out how it should work for them. When California first legalized medical marijuana, there were very few regulations put in place by anyone; and 18 years later there has been a lot of conflict around the medical marijuana business due to that lack of regulation.

The city council of both Boca Raton and Coconut Creek will convene sometime in October to finalize their decision on the moratorium, although no hard date has been set. If passed it is unlikely that these short-term bans will do much to hinder the implementation of medical marijuana as it is going to take some time to get everything set up regardless of the moratorium.

William Sumner, a freelance writer and marijuana journalist, was a staff writer for MJINews from May 2014 through February 2018. You can follow him on Twitter @W_Sumner.

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