Another City in Florida Gives MMJ Dispensaries the “Green” Light

Orange Park becomes the first city in Clay County, Florida, to permit the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries within its limits.

Medical marijuana dispensaries can open their doors in Orange Park, Florida after the municipality’s Town Council approved an ordinance authorizing their operation this week. With the council voting 3-2, Orange Park becomes the first community in Clay County to allow dispensaries.

“This is the right thing to do. It’s what the people voted for in this county and in this town. And it puts us in control of it,” said Alan Watt, one of the three council members who voted in support of the ordinance to permit dispensaries.

The other two votes for the ordinance came from Orange Park Mayor Scott Land and council member Connie Thomas. Dissenting the ordinance were Vice Mayor Gary Meeks and Councilman Ron Raymond.

“I have no moral issue with the marijuana as a medical treatment. But I believe our town is too small. … I’m saying we’ve got way more questions about this than I’m comfortable with because we really don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Raymond.

Florida’s law mandates that medical marijuana dispensaries be treated as regular pharmacies for zoning purposes. Anywhere a regular pharmacy can operate is also open to medical marijuana dispensaries. Both are prohibited from operating within commercial neighborhood zoning districts like convenience stores and office spaces. They also are not allowed within 500 feet of schools.

While the medical marijuana measure passed by Florida voters in November establishes regulations for the industry throughout the state, it’s up to individual counties and municipalities to decide whether to allow or ban dispensaries.

So far, Florida health officials have approved at least 12 medical marijuana operations statewide. The state’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use lists dispensaries in Bradenton, Clearwater, Edgewater, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Kendall, Lady Lake, Lake Worth, Miami Orlando, Pensacola, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee, and Tampa.

History of Medical Marijuana in Florida

Florida’s medical marijuana industry market, projected to eventually grow to rival Colorado’s, officially launched in January after an overwhelming 71 percent of voters approved Amendment 2 to legalize the medical use of cannabis November 2016.

Prior to the passing of the ballot initiative, Florida had in place a highly restrictive low-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) law, which permitted patients suffering from seizures, muscle spasms, or cancer to use cannabis oil containing 10 percent or more CBD and no more than 8/10s of 1 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). That law had been in place since 2014, but as of September 2016 only 331 patients had registered for the program.

Florida’s New Medical Marijuana Law

Under Florida’s new medical marijuana law, patients diagnosed with epilepsy, chronic muscle spasms, cancer, HIV and AIDS, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and terminal conditions can legally access medical marijuana with a recommendation from a licensed physician.

Qualified patients are permitted to buy three 70-day supplies of cannabis oils, sprays, tinctures, edibles, and vaping materials. Smoking marijuana is prohibited.

Over the summer, Florida’s medical marijuana industry saw a significant spike in the numbers of doctors authorized to recommend cannabis and registered patients.
Florida is one of 29 U.S. states that have legalized the medicinal use of marijuana, despite marijuana being federally prohibited. You can learn more about Florida’s marijuana laws and cannabis laws throughout the U.S. by visiting our education page.