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City to look at medical marijuana laws impact

Planning passes resolution for council to take nine months to review issues

March 22, 2017
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

A unanimous vote was made by the City of Sanibel Planning Commission to pass a resolution allowing the city nine months to review the impact of the change in law concerning medical cannabis.

The resolution "consideration of a draft ordinance of the City of Sanibel establishing a temporary moratorium on cannabis dispensing businesses as further defined herein; providing for geographic area covered; providing for penalties; providing a savings clause; providing for severability; providing for codification."

Director Jim Jordan said a drafted ordinance will go to City Council for consideration and adoption to provide a moratorium on establishing legislation for dispensary of medical marijuana. He said this is in compliance with the state.

"The moratorium itself would be for a period of nine months from the effective date of the adoption. This will allow the city time to adopt appropriate legislation with regards to land use regulations and zoning," Jordan said.

City Attorney Ken Cuyler addressed why the consideration of the draft ordinance was before them last Tuesday. He said it is the same as when land code amendments come before them.

"The adoption process is similar to that of a rezone, which would come to you to provide additional notice, get a recommendation from you to City Council. City Council would have a first reading and then a public hearing, second reading and consider adoption," Cuyler said.

He said there are a number of local governments in Southwest Florida that are going through the process.

"We realize, and the other communities realize, this is a constitutional amendment and the purpose of this is not to stop the dispensing forever. It is kind of to take a snapshot of where we are right now and kind of keep it the way it is until the state finishes developing their regulations and we know what types of regulations we want to suggest to you and to the City Council," Cuyler said.

Planning Commissioner Jason Maughan said he believes it is the best thing they can do at this time because it is a new world.

"It's got a serious purpose and thank God it will have a great application for medical purposes, but the things this can affect in the community can be done in a knee jerk fashion, as opposed to taking six or nine months. Most cities are taking six or 12 months just to see what larger cities with lawyers can come up with regulations. I think we should wait long enough to benefit from their labors before we implement something ourselves," he said.

Chairman Phillip Marks said nine months gives them the chance to see how the other cities that have started before them sided and what input the federal government has on it as well.

Planning Commissioner Karen Storjohann asked why nine months, as opposed to 12.

Cuyler said probably because some of the communities that have done it for a year did it two, or three months ago. He said they thought the nine months would get them past the same date they are looking at and the date necessary to get state regulations and what is going on statewide.

"We could always, if we felt uncomfortable, we could always continue it for another three months," Cuyler said.

Storjohann also asked if regular smoking ordinances apply to smoking marijuana.

Cuyler said the state of Florida regulates smoking. He said he thinks as part of these regulations, at least one community has prohibited smoking marijuana in public whether it is medical, or any other kind.

"We may consider something along those lines with these regulations," Cuyler said, adding that in general smoking is preempted by the state of Florida. "We will be addressing it if they wont."

Anyone is precluded to being a dispensary and dispensing the product, he said.

"If a pharmacy came in after this has passed and said we want to dispense medical marijuana the answer would be no, you are not authorized to do that. We are not going to give a license to do that, a business license to do that," Cuyler said.

He said they understand it is a constitutional amendment, but they also have a health safety welfare obligation to make sure what is done, is done correctly in the interest of the citizens.



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