In the wake of a constitutional amendment creating an expanded medical marijuana market in Florida, cities around the state are preparing for the expansion of cannabis retail outlets.
Miami not so much.
Even though there's already a so-called pot shop just outside its borders, South Florida's largest city doesn't appear to be in much of a rush to craft legislation regulating marijuana dispensaries. In fact, the mere thought of doing so seems taboo in City Hall.
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Adam Gersten learned as much Wednesday night when, during a meeting of Miami's Planning Zoning and Appeals Board, he tried to prompt a discussion about zoning regulations for medical marijuana retail outlets.
“I’m happy to make it very easy. It’s not allowed,” Deputy City Attorney Barnaby Min responded.
When pressed further by Gersten, an attorney who’d asked city staffers to research zoning rules in states with medical marijuana programs, Min offered what he prefaced as a “very poor example” to illustrate the legal issue with allowing pot shops.
“If the city of Miami for some infinite, god-forbidden reason thought having sex with a child was a great way to recover from some issue and so we wrote that into our city code, just because the city says that’s legal doesn’t mean it’s legal,” he said.
The position that medical marijuana dispensaries are prohibited due to the conflict in federal law is not unique. Coral Gables, for instance, holds the same position.
But the Gables has already passed zoning regulations for medical marijuana shops to prepare for if and when their city attorney opines that there is no longer a conflict in the law. Other municipalities have called moratoriums in order to study regulations.
Gersten, the owner of Gramps bar in Wynwood, was confused about the city’s lack of interest in preparing for preparing for what he sees as the inevitable.
“I just find it somewhat crazy that we can’t have a discussion about something that isn’t an ‘if’ but a ‘when,’” he said.