In November 2016, 70 percent of Floridian voters amended the state’s constitution to expand medical marijuana use for thousands of patients.
Milton, Niceville and Crestview have decided to ignore these constituents by placing bans on medical marijuana dispensaries. Despite even higher levels of support – 79 percent – within their constituency, Gulf Breeze’s city council are considering their own flat out ban. And all members have said they intend to vote in favor of it.
The reasons provided by Gulf Breeze officials seem disingenuous, ranging from lack of retail space to the location of prospective dispensaries near schools. These arguments dissolve under scrutiny.
The laws of the open market would settle the space issue very efficiently. Many vacant commercial properties exist in Gulf Breeze. However, if there’s no space, or if demand is low, the market will adjust accordingly – no ban needed.
As for location, legislation and Florida Department of Health regulations have imposed strict guidelines on the security of such facilities. There are requirements for extensive auditing, security cameras, specific locking door systems and thorough records keeping of all marijuana products. Every leaf and bud is accounted for.
How do the proposed dispensaries differ from a local CVS, where drugs like oxycontin, Vicodin, and Adderall pass across the counters daily?
Furthermore, the laws specifically prohibit use of this medication in public, and smoking it in any form is still barred.
Well-intentioned prohibition supporters ignore the illogical nature of their arguments with such positions. Misuse of prescription drugs is just as rampant as their perceived fears of medical marijuana, yet pharmacies operate near schools with no ill effects.
Fear has no place in policymaking. If fear was to drive every governmental decision – more precisely, the fear of misuse and abuse – then why not prohibit driving and shut down U.S. Highway 98? There are many everyday activities that might be restricted based on that criteria.
The ban on medical marijuana dispensaries is misguided and driven by this fear. More importantly, Gulf Breeze City Council should not override the will of the people.