The Fort Myers City Council took its first step towards passing an ordinance that would ban medical marijuana sales for six months during their meeting Monday.
Council Member Michael Flanders stressed that he wanted the public to know that this was a temporary measure designed to give the city more time, not a permanent ban on medical marijuana.
“We’re doing this because of some of the uncertainty of some of the language in the law,” said Flanders. “It’s not a full-fledged prohibition, it’s for at least six months until we have more information.
Florida legislators laid out the ground rules for marijuana dispensaries during a special session in June after a ballot initiative allowing medical use of the substance passed with over 70 percent of the vote in 2016. The law did not give local governments many choices when it came to how to regulate the new dispensaries as Assistant City Attorney Terry Cramer explained to the council.
“We either have to allow them or we have the option to come forward with an ordinance banning them,” said Kramer. “We are waiting to see what they do in Tallahassee. If they let cities have a little more leeway.”
Naples, Bonita Springs, and Estero have all passed similar temporary bans citing the same concerns about lack of local control over regulation. Estero made theirs permanent in November, while Collier County recently extended their ban through June. The ordinance, which would be in effect through July 1, will require two public hearings in January before being passed.
CURRENT STATUS OF DISPENSARIES IN SOUTHWEST FLORIDA
Collier County: Banned through June 30
Estero: Banned outright
Bonita Springs: Banned through December 31
Sanibel: Banned through January 31
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