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Dade City Commission extends moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries

DADE CITY — Two years into a temporary ban on medical marijuana dispensaries, Dade City officials still are wrangling with whether or not to prohibit them permanently.

During a meeting Tuesday, the Dade City Commission voted on first reading to extend for another six months its moratorium banning medical marijuana dispensaries first established in 2016.

The commission plans to hold one more workshop to discuss whether to allow them, and if so, how to regulate them.

It will come on the heels of a June workshop, after which City Manager Billy Poe told the Tampa Bay Times the commission had reached a consensus to permanently ban dispensaries.

Poe did not discuss on Tuesday what led to another workshop this month, but extending the moratorium left Commissioner Nicole Deese Newlon asking whether this would be the last extension before they make a decision.

"I sure hope so," City Attorney Nancy Stuparich responded.

In the lead up to the 2016 vote on state Amendment 2 legalizing medical marijuana, which voters passed, numerous government bodies established moratoriums to temporarily ban dispensaries so they could investigate potential impacts.

Many extended their moratoriums as the state Legislature hashed out regulations in 2017. After that, some cities, including New Port Richey and Zephyrhills in Pasco County that had moratoriums, passed ordinances establishing regulations to allow dispensaries.

Dade City Mayor Camille Hernandez asked Poe to seek information from Zephyrhills regarding its process prior to Dade City's next workshop on Sept. 25 in City Hall at 4 p.m.

In other news, property tax rates in Dade City will stay the same next year. The commission approved keeping the current millage rate of 7.14 mills for the 2018-19 fiscal year. A mill represents $1 in tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. So on a property valued at $100,000, a resident will pay $714 in city taxes next fiscal year. It is part of an overall $16.4 million budget commissioners also passed Tuesday.