Wednesday, December 13, 2017
News Roundup

Pasco limits number of medical marijuana dispensers to two

NEW PORT RICHEY — Two months ago, Pasco commissioners agreed that growers and dispensers of medical marijuana could operate in the county, they just couldn't decide how many should be allowed to do so.

On Tuesday, with no discussion, commissioners settled on a number — two. The only comment at the public hearing came from Chase Daniels of the Pasco Sheriff's Office, who said Sheriff Chris Nocco supported the proposal.

Commissioners previously decided the retailers of low-THC medical marijuana, approved by the state Legislature in 2014, can operate in districts zoned for light industrial use if they receive a county conditional permit. But they disagreed on a number of outlets. In December, Commissioner Mike Wells Jr. said he wanted no limit. Commissioner Ron Oakley suggested five, or one for each commission district. Commissioner Mike Moore offered six, one for each of the dispensing companies the state Department of Health had approved at the time. Commissioner Jack Mariano voted against the zoning rule, saying the outlets should be in commercial locations closer to people.

There was no such debate Tuesday. County staffers recommended two dispensers based on the number of qualified patients in Pasco. Commissioners agreed unanimously. The medical marijuana known as Charlotte's Web is available for patients with cancer or medical conditions causing chronic seizures or muscle spasms.

The commission vote did not alter a previously approved one-year moratorium on dispensaries tied to the Amendment 2 medical marijuana referendum approved by 71 percent of Florida's voters in November.

That amendment calls for medical marijuana treatment facilities that have not yet been defined by the Legislature. The moratorium, which became effective in December, allows the county to wait for the Legislature to devise state rules for the facilities before Pasco considers its own land-use and permit requirements.

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