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Safety Harbor rejects marijuana plan, sends it back for rewrite

By Piper Castillo
Safety Harbor may allow medical marijuana to be grown, but not sold, in the city. [AP Photo]

SAFETY HARBOR — In August, the City Commission appeared to be heading in the direction of allowing medical marijuana to be sold within city limits by directing staff to draft an ordinance for marijuana dispensaries. However, on Monday commissioners did an about-face by voting the draft ordinance down by a 3-1 vote (with Commissioner Cliff Merz absent).

Mayor Joe Ayoub, who has heard from many residents in recent weeks, admitted he was torn. "This is a tough one because you have 72 percent of (Florida) voters who voted for (medical marijuana),’’ he said. "But when you get to the nitty-gritty, they don’t want it in their back yard.’’

Commissioners were comfortable with one other piece of the draft ordinance, however. As city staff tries again with the medical marijuana ordinance, they will keep a piece allowing processing and cultivating facilities to be put in light industrial areas of the city. Florida law dictates that cities must allow such facilities, but they are able to regulate where they operate.

A rewritten ordinance will be discussed at a meeting in December.