Bradenton isn’t feeling the blues over medical marijuana, but city officials did manage to combine the two subjects in separate discussions on Wednesday.
Officials donned dark sunglasses for one of the items, but it wasn’t for medical marijuana. The sunglasses went on in support of the Dec. 2-4 Bradenton Blues Festival, but they came off when it was time for business, which was the first of two public hearings proposing a 180-day moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits.
Officials unanimously approved the first reading and scheduled the final hearing for Dec. 14.
The city’s move toward a moratorium comes after Florida voters Nov. 8 approved the expanded use of medical marijuana, with 71 percent of the vote.
However, City Attorney Bill Lisch said the Florida Legislature isn’t likely to have rules and regulations in place until July.
Most communities across Florida are doing this. No one knows yet what will come out of the Legislature.
City attorney Bill Lisch, in recommending a 180-day moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries.
“Most communities across Florida are doing this,” Lisch said. “No one knows yet what will come out of the Legislature.”
Officials say the moratorium would not be prohibition and would instead give them time to enact their own zoning regulations to allow dispensaries. If enacted, the moratorium would stop all permit applications to open a medical marijuana dispensary.
Drug Free Manatee opposed Amendment 2 and is voicing support for the moratorium.
“Medical marijuana is a new industry in Florida, and cities and counties need to have zoning regulations so they can’t open everywhere,” said Sharon Kramer, executive director of Drug Free Manatee.
Kramer said she is concerned about what dispensaries could do for some parts of the city.
It’s a cash only business and that can attract crime.
Drug Free Manatee Executive Director Sharon Kramer
“Banks won’t do business with medical marijuana dispensaries because it’s still not allowed by the federal government,” Kramer said. “It’s a cash-only business, and that can attract crime.”
Tallahasee-based Trulieve, one of the few medical marijuana companies already licensed in Florida, has purchased property in the 1100 block of 14th Street West in Bradenton. According to Victoria Walker, Trulieve community relations director, the property was purchased under the city’s current zoning and was given location approval by city staff as an “allowable use.”
Walker said the company has all the necessary approvals to move forward and plans to do so. Walker said Trulieve’s expectations are that they would be grandfathered in under any zoning changes.
“They were told about this moratorium,” said Catherine Hartley, the city’s planning and community development director. “As long as they get all of their permits in before the moratorium takes place, then they are fine.”
Walker said earlier this month that the company is finalizing its site plans, which would be submitted to the city soon.
According to the moratorium ordinance, it would take effect as soon as it is approved on Dec. 14.