Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa officials ponder potential impact of medical marijuana

TAMPA — If Florida voters say yes to medical marijuana, no one can say yet what role cities like Tampa would have in regulating where it turns up in their communities.

In 21 other states that have legalized marijuana in some form, mostly for medical use, that question has produced a mixed bag of local rules. In Colorado, for example, cities and counties can ban dispensaries, as well as the manufacture and distribution of marijuana.

But that's not likely here, City Attorney Julia Mandell told the City Council on Thursday.

That's because part of the medical marijuana amendment heading for the November ballot is aimed at assuring the availability of medical marijuana in communities, she said.

"I would suggest that there's no way for us to ban that in the city of Tampa in any kind of significant way," she said.

Instead, the Florida Department of Health will shape the regulatory landscape and decide what rules — if any — will be left to local officials, according to Gina Grimes, a Tampa lawyer who has studied the potential impact of the amendment on local governments.

If passed, Florida's proposed constitutional amendment would require the state Department of Health to promulgate rules on medical marijuana by July 2015. (Grimes said the amendment would trump a more restrictive bill the Legislature passed this year allowing the medical use of marijuana with low levels of the active ingredient THC.)

Grimes said the amendment requires the Health Department to adopt procedures for registering treatment centers. But it doesn't say that they do or do not have to address issues of location.

"If they chose to regulate the location of the medical marijuana treatment centers, then you will be pre-empted," Grimes told the council. But she suggested that if the amendment was meant to restrict locations, it probably would have delegated that task to the Health Department.

Thus, she said, there may be more of a chance that issue ends up being addressed at the local level.

If so, the city could have several options, Mandell told the council.

It could seek to regulate medical marijuana treatment centers through its land-use rules, which include zoning.

It could use its business regulations, which are more focused on operations.

Or it could do some combination of both.

Mandell noted that when pain management clinics began to proliferate, some communities enacted moratoriums. But on the recommendation of police, Tampa enacted a business regulation for the clinics so the city knew where they were located.

The city's business regulation gave officials information on clinics' owners, their landlords, their staffs and their facilities. It also made sure they complied with zoning regulations on issues like parking.

And some clinics that couldn't follow the rules had to leave town, she said.

But with so much still evolving about medical marijuana, Mandell said the city will have to follow the issue for a while and take care that any rules it creates treat similar businesses equitably.

"I suspect that if we do this wrong," she said, "we could end up in some significant litigation."

Tampa officials ponder potential impact of medical marijuana 05/22/14 [Last modified: Thursday, May 22, 2014 10:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jones: Serena Williams, and all women, deserved better from John McEnroe

    Tennis

    John McEnroe might be the best sports analyst in broadcasting.

    Serena Williams makes a backhand return to her sister Venus during the women's singles final at the Australian Open tennis championships in January in  Melbourne, Australia. [AP photo]
  2. Watch: Provocateur targets CNN producer with hidden camera video

    National

    NEW YORK —A conservative provocateur posted a video Tuesday of a man identified as a CNN producer commenting on his network's coverage of President Donald Trump and connections to Russia.

    Anthony Scaramucci, a senior adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, talks to reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. [Associated Press]
  3. Protesters demand Confederate statue be moved from old Hillsborough courthouse

    News

    TAMPA – Politicians, clergy and community leaders demanded Tuesday that the Hillsborough County commission reverse course and remove a Confederate monument from the old county courthouse.

    (From left) Mike Reed, Kristen Perry and Dayna Lazarus hold protest signs Tuesday in front of a Confederate monument on the grounds of Hillsborough County's old courthouse. Protesters want the statue removed. ALESSANDRA DA PRA   Times]
  4. Man charged with threatening Florida lawmaker on Facebook

    Blogs

    From The Associated Press:

    MIAMI — A Florida man has been charged with threatening to kill a state legislator in a Facebook post. 

    This booking photo released by the Miami-Dade Police Department shows Steve St. Felix, who has been charged with threatening to kill Republican state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz in a Facebook post.
  5. Joe Maddon: What my time in Tampa Bay meant, and still means, to me

    The Heater

    Editor's note: The Rays next week in Chicago will meet up for the first time with former manager Joe Maddon, who is in his third year leading the Cubs after nine with the Rays. In advance of the Tuesday-Wednesday series, we asked Maddon to share his thoughts in a column on what his time in Tampa Bay meant to …

    Joe Maddon waits to greet B.J. Upton after Upton's home run in Game 2 of the ALCS in 2008 at Tropicana Field. [Times files (2008)]