Make us your home page
Instagram

Hillsborough creates 750-foot buffer to limit medical marijuana centers

TAMPA

Hillsborough County recently approved a slew of new rules for where medical marijuana dispensaries can operate.

One rule that didn't make the cut was a limit on the number of dispensaries that can operate within county limits.

But don't expect a marijuana business to open on every street corner just because there is no cap on their number.

For starters, these rules only apply to unincorporated Hillsborough, not the three cities within county boundaries. Tampa is working on its own set of regulations and currently has a moratorium in place to prevent any new businesses for now.

Second, Hillsborough's new ordinance prohibits these dispensaries from opening within 750 feet from a slew of places like schools and bars. The list of establishments with this buffer includes:

•Churches/synagogues, schools, child care centers, public libraries, community recreational facilities and parks

•Residentially zoned parcels

•Establishments that sell beer, wine and liquor for consumption on or off the premises.

That knocks out a big chunk of the county and basically pushes these businesses to the outskirts of population centers. The regulations also say marijuana businesses cannot operate within 750 feet of each other, so there won't be a Weed District forming in Hillsborough any time soon.

Finally, the dispensaries can only open in certain commercial and manufacturing zones and few of these aren't disqualified by the aforementioned 750-foot buffer rules.

There are small pockets of these zones scattered throughout the county but they're mostly concentrated in the unincorporated area immediately north of Tampa International Airport, some parts of South Shore, just east of Orient Road in Tampa and south of Temple Terrace.

It's possible some of these businesses won't consider it profitable to set up shop so far from where people live, which could drive down the number of applicants for licenses.

It's worth noting, too, that lawmakers in Tallahassee can override all of this if they approve their own land use rules for medical marijuana centers. State law supersedes county ordinances.

A draft of the county ordinance originally restricted medical marijuana licenses to one for every 67,222 unincorporated residents. That would amount to 13, or 11 new ones considering two dispensaries already are open — Trulieve on North Dale Mabry Highway and Surterra on East Fowler.

Commissioners narrowly voted 4-3 to remove that restriction so it's possible that more than 13 dispensaries will soon be operating in Hillsborough County, especially if the Legislature pushes through a large-scale expansion of medical marijuana in response to the approval of Amendment 2.

Contact Steve Contorno at [email protected] or (813) 326-3433. Follow @scontorno.

By Steve Contorno

Times Staff Writer

TAMPA — Hillsborough County recently approved a slew of new rules for where medical marijuana dispensaries can operate.

One rule that didn't make the cut was a limit on the number of dispensaries that can operate within county limits.

But don't expect a marijuana business to open on every street corner just because there is no cap on their number.

For starters, these rules only apply to unincorporated Hillsborough, not the three cities within county boundaries. Tampa is working on its own set of regulations and currently has a moratorium in place to prevent any new businesses for now.

Second, Hillsborough's new ordinance prohibits these dispensaries from opening within 750 feet from a slew of places like schools and bars. The list of establishments with this buffer includes:

•Churches/synagogues, schools, child care centers, public libraries, community recreational facilities and parks

•Residentially zoned parcels

•Establishments that sells beer, wine and liquor for consumption on or off the premises.

That knocks out a big chunk of the county and basically pushes these businesses to the outskirts of population centers. The regulations also say marijuana businesses cannot operate within 750 feet of each other, so there won't be a Weed District forming in Hillsborough any time soon.

Finally, the dispensaries can only open in certain commercial and manufacturing zones and few of these aren't disqualified by the aforementioned 750-foot buffer rules.

There are small pockets of these zones scattered throughout the county but they're mostly concentrated in the unincorporated area immediately north of Tampa International Airport, some parts of South Shore, just east of Orient Road in Tampa and south of Temple Terrace.

It's possible some of these businesses won't consider it profitable to set up shop so far from where people live, which could drive down the number of applicants for licenses.

It's worth noting, too, that lawmakers in Tallahassee can override all of this if they approve their own land use rules for medical marijuana centers. State law supersedes county ordinances.

A draft of the county ordinance originally restricted medical marijuana licenses to one for every 67,222 unincorporated residents. That would amount to 13, or 11 new ones considering two dispensaries already are open — Trulieve on North Dale Mabry Highway and Surterra on East Fowler.

Commissioners narrowly voted 4-3 to remove that restriction so it's possible that more than 13 dispensaries will soon be operating in Hillsborough County, especially if the Legislature pushes through a large-scale expansion of medical marijuana in response to the approval of Amendment 2.

Contact Steve Contorno at [email protected] or (813) 326-3433. Follow @scontorno.

Hillsborough creates 750-foot buffer to limit medical marijuana centers 03/14/17 [Last modified: Thursday, March 16, 2017 6:03am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. SeaWorld cuts 350 jobs across company, including in Orlando

    Business

    ORLANDO — SeaWorld, which has struggled with declining attendance, announced Wednesday it is cutting 350 positions.

    Kalia, a 12-year-old orca whale, during rehearsals for the upcoming Orca Encounter at SeaWorld San Diego, on May 18, 2017. [Howard Lipin | San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  2. As Clearwater Marine Aquarium expands, it asks the city for help

    Growth

    CLEARWATER — When Clearwater Marine Aquarium CEO David Yates saw an architect's initial design for the facility's massive expansion project, he told them to start all over.

    Clearwater Marine Aquarium Veterinarian Shelly Marquardt (left), Brian Eversole, Senior Sea Turtle and Aquatic Biologist (middle) and Devon Francke, Supervisor of Sea Turtle Rehab, are about to give a rescued juvenile green sea turtle, suffering from a lot of the Fibropapillomatosis tumors, fluids at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium Wednesday afternoon. Eventually when the turtle is healthy enough the tumors will be removed with a laser and after it is rehabilitated it will be released back into the wild.  -  The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is launching a $66 million renovation to expand its facilities to take in injured animals and space to host visitors. The aquarium is asking the city for a $5 million grant Thursday to help in the project. American attitudes toward captive animals are changing. Sea World is slipping after scrutiny on the ethics of captive marine life. But CEO David Yates says CMA is different, continuing its mission of rehab and release, it's goal is to promote education, not exploitation. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times

  3. One of the best places for investing in a rental house is in Tampa Bay

    Real Estate

    Two Tampa Bay ZIP Codes are drawing national attention.

    . If you're looking to invest in a house to rent out, few places are better than  ZIP Code 34607 in Hernando County's Spring Hill area, according to ATTOM Data Solutions.
[LANCE ROTHSTEIN   |  Times
 file photo]

  4. Tampa Chamber of Commerce announces small business winners

    Business

    TAMPA — The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce selected the winners of the 2017 Small Business of the Year Awards at a ceremony Wednesday night at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. More than 600 attendees celebrated the accomplishments of Tampa Bay's small business community.

    Vincent Cassidy, president and CEO of Majesty Title Services, was named Outstanding Small Business Leader of the Year by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

  5. International array of artists chosen as finalists for pier project

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — A diverse group of six artists will compete for a chance to install their work at the city's multimillion-dollar Pier District, expected to open in early 2019.