Gulf Breeze nears medical marijuana sales ban

The impending City of Gulf Breeze ordinance that prohibits medical marijuana sales outlets within the municipality’s borders leaves no room for misinterpretation—starting with its first words: “Ban imposed.”

Written by the city’s paid staff at the direction of the elected City Council, the new law is tentatively slated to go into effect in mid-to-late August after it is voted on twice by the five-member board, all of whom have indicated support for the measure.

“The City Council finds that it would be in the public interest to exercise the option to ban Medical Marijuana Treatment Center dispensing facilities within the boundaries of the City at the present time,” the ordinance states.

Despite the 70 percent statewide voter approval of the expanded sale of a non-euphoric form of the drug last November, the five-member Gulf Breeze panel is balking at allowing sales in this beachy community of about 6,000.

Even Mayor Matt Dannheisser has acknowledged that about 79 percent of Gulf Breeze voters favored Amendment 2, which was signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott in June.

The new state law allows a city to prohibit dispensaries within its borders. While Gulf Breeze has not yet voted on a ban, Dannheisser and other council members worry that not taking such an action would leave them little legal control over how many dispensaries could open—or where. Essentially, they would have to be treated as pharmacies, meaning they could be located close to schools and churches.

Gulf Breeze leaders who oppose the dispensaries say the city’s cramped commercial area hasn’t room for new construction that the businesses would occupy.

The Gulf Breeze ban—similar to one recently enacted by the City of Milton—doesn’t stop the dispensaries from opening in unincorporated parts of Santa Rosa County, where commissioners haven’t taken action on medical marijuana nor signaled an intention to do so. For now that means the sales outlets—which would fill doctors’ prescriptions for the drug—might be able to open in Midway or Navarre.

Read the full article in the August 3 issue of Navarre Press. Subscribe online at navarrepress.com for as little as $38 per year.

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