Commissioners: Don’t panic over 180-day moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries

medical marijuana, ocala, marion county, amendment 2

After many, many residents expressed their concerns to the Marion County Board of County Commissioners about the moratorium on medical marijuana, commissioners reached out to try and clarify their actions.

Marion County commissioners say they do not want the public to panic over the 180-day moratorium (temporary prohibition) of medical marijuana dispensaries that fall under Amendment 2.

The Amendment, passed on November 8, 2016, allows medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating medical conditions as determined by a licensed Florida physician. Allows caregivers to assist patients’ medical use of marijuana. The Department of Health shall register and regulate centers that produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes and shall issue identification cards to patients and caregivers. Applies only to Florida law. Does not immunize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana.

In a November 10 e-mail to Ocala Post , Marion County Public Information Officer, Elaine DeIorio McClain, wrote,  “During a public hearing at the Nov. 1 BCC meeting, the commission discussed implementing a 180-day moratorium (temporary prohibition/ban) on new medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated Marion County.”

On November 14, Marion County Public Information Director Nick Zoller told Ocala Post that the moratorium is not directly aimed at Amendment 2, but rather “temporarily delaying the issuance of approvals to open medical marijuana dispensaries,” which falls under Amendment 2.

Zoller said, “The [180-day temporary delay] is related to an issue with zoning regulations which have to be updated to accommodate a new type of business that Florida voters have created through approval of Amendment 2. This is in no way a temporary ban on the amendment, but rather a procedural necessity to ensure effective services to citizens and business owners who will be interacting with these new establishments.”

McClain said that the discussion would continue at a second BCC public hearing slated for November 15. The commission meeting will begin at 9 a.m. The public hearing will begin at 10 a.m. The meeting will take place at the McPherson Complex, located at  601 SE 25th Ave., Ocala, FL 34471.

“It would only temporarily prevent the filing of applications for new medical marijuana dispensing facilities,” said Zoller.

The BOCC said once it is prepared by updating all zoning regulations, it has every intention of upholding Amendment 2.

Zoller said, “The county does and will continue to follow the laws of the state of Florida.”