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Despite talk of moratorium, company still wants to open medical pot shop

A medical marijuana company is planning to open for business in the winter of 2017 on 14th Street West despite Bradenton officials proposing a 180-day moratorium on dispensaries to ensure codes accomodate residents and these types of businesses alike.
A medical marijuana company is planning to open for business in the winter of 2017 on 14th Street West despite Bradenton officials proposing a 180-day moratorium on dispensaries to ensure codes accomodate residents and these types of businesses alike. myoung@bradenton.com

Despite the possibility of a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries, Tallahasee-based Trulieve representatives are moving forward with plans to open up a dispensary in the 1100 block of 14th Street West in Bradenton.

“Plans are moving forward right now with the expectation of opening in the winter of 2017,” said Victoria Walker, Trulieve community relations director. “It’s our understanding that we have all of the approvals necessary when we purchased this property. We don’t anticipate a moratorium to interrupt our plans from a legal standpoint so if there was something presented in the moratorium that would affect our location, we would expect to be grandfathered in.”

Walker said the company’s architect is finishing the site plans and they should be submitted to the city soon for review.

Bradenton is considering a 180-day moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries, with the first public hearing scheduled for Nov. 16. That’s eight days after Florida voters decide the fate of Amendment 2, which would legalize the use of medical marijuana in the state.

“We just want to make sure we understand what the regulations will be if it passes, which it looks like it will,” Mayor Wayne Poston said of the possible moratorium.

The city is likely to look at medical marijuana dispensaries in the same way as establishments that sell alcohol and consider whether potential locations are sufficient distances from schools, churches and residential areas. When Trulieve purchased the property, they made sure the business fit into the city’s zoning requirements beforehand, which includes “drug and sundry stores,” and city staff listed the dispensary as an “allowed use.”

The Bradenton location would be Trulieve’s fifth location, which will open regardless of the results of Amendment 2. Florida passed Charlotte’s Web in 2014 that allows for low-THC pills to be prescribed largely to those suffering from epilepsy.

We are very optimistic about medical marijuana passing on Nov. 8 and as of now, all of our planning moving forward is based on that it will pass.

Trulieve Community Relations Director Victoria Walker

While the failure of Amendment 2 wouldn’t change Trulieve’s plans, the company is optimistic it will pass.

“We are very optimistic about medical marijuana passing on Nov. 8 and as of now, all of our planning moving forward is based on that it will pass,” Walker said.

Trulieve already has dispensaries in Tallahassee and Clearwater with additional expansion plans for Orlando and Miami-Dade County.

“Bradenton has been our radar for awhile now. ... I think it’s a great location and we are excited to move this forward,” said Truelieve CEO Kim Rivers.

Manatee County also is considering a possible moratorium.

Palmetto was the first to act on regulating medical marijuana dispensaries prior to the failed 2014 attempt to legalize medical marijuana. The ordinance would require dispensaries to be located in the city’s commercial heavy industrial zone.

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