New rules for medical marijuana dispensaries move forward in Hillsborough County
TAMPA -- Hillsborough County commissioners on Tuesday narrowly rejected a call to delay the opening of new medical marijuana dispensaries until October.
Instead, commissioners set a schedule that would put them on track to approve new regulations for such facilities by April, when the county's six-month moratorium on new medical marijuana establishments is set to expire.
Several commissioners insisted the county board should extend the moratorium until after the 2017 legislative session ends to see how state lawmakers address the expansion of medical marijuana that Florida voters approved in a November referendum. It’s possible whatever happens in Tallahasse could undo any rules Hillsborough passes regarding where medical marijuana dispensaries can operate.
But in a narrow 4-3 vote, commissioners decide to charge ahead with proposed guidelines for setting up a dispensary in Hillsborough.
“It would be reckless for the Legislature to step in and preempt a county from making local land use rules,” Commissioner Stacy White said.
Under a proposed ordinance drafted by the county attorney’s office, medical marijuana dispensaries would have to operate 750 feet from churches, schools, parks and other community-use facilities, as well as other medical marijuana dispensaries and bars and liquor stores.
The ordinance would apply only to unincorporated Hillsborough County, not the cities of Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City. Tampa also has enacted a moratorium on new medical marijuana dispensaries as it writes its own rules.
The Hillsborough County commission will now hold two public hearings for residents to weigh in on the proposed rules before a scheduled March 7 vote.