City wants hold on pot shops

Posted on January 6, 2017 by Mat Pellegrino

While Santa Rosa County officials are working diligently to adhere to a new amendment that was passed in November regarding the sale of medical marijuana, City of Gulf Breeze officials are looking to keep pot shops out of Proper until they can get a better game plan under their belts regarding the location of the dispensaries.
At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the city made the first step in moving closer to enacting a year-long ban on medical marijuana-related facilities in Proper until the state can establish better ground rules to local municipalities on where the dispensaries could be located and how they would be run once they are open.
Back in November, Florida residents voted yes on Amendment 2, which legalized the use of medical marijuana. The amendment allows for medical marijuana to be sold, but the biggest question for city officials is where.
“With everything we do, we want to make sure we have the rules and regulations in advance so people can plan their investments and property issues appropriately,” said Gulf Breeze City Manager Edwin “Buz” Eddy.
Three schools in city limits touch U.S. Highway 98—including an elementary school—which could make it difficult for the city to establish where the dispensaries could go in regards to the city’s zoning laws.
The city’s biggest concern is zoning, according to Eddy. One issue that Eddy brought up at Tuesday’s meeting was dispensary locations in relation to the schools in Proper.
“I mentioned the issues with school zones,” Eddy said. “We want to examine everything to figure out the location criteria. We want to impose this moratorium to catch up with the state legislators. It’s not a matter of stalling, it’s a matter of hitting the pause button so we can fairly say that we looked at the information from the legislator and that we can answer any questions or concerns from businesses and residents regarding where these facilities can be established.”
Even though a dispensary could be considered a business and run in a business zone, Eddy said the state still has to outline zoning issues pertaining to the new amendment, which is the city’s biggest concern over the issue.
“If someone is buying property and putting a dispensary in…will it be commercial? We want to be sure everyone has those rules in place before people start asking us,” Eddy said.
At Tuesday’s meeting, council unanimously approved the first of two required readings on the moratorium. Eddy said the city is wanting to put a year-long ban on the matter.
In two weeks, the city will vote on the matter again during a second reading. If passed, the restrictions will go into effect immediately.
The county is also looking to put a delay on pot sales after the Board of County Commissioners approved imposing a 180-day moratorium on the amendment last month.