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Kissimmee bans marijuana dispensaries

Posted on Thursday, August 17, 2017 at 5:49 pm

By Ken Jackson
Staff Writer
Kissimmee city commissioners Tuesday voted to ban medical marijuana production centers and distribution centers, falling in line with other local area governments.
It wasn’t an indictment on the product, or their feelings about Amendment 2, which voters passed in

Photo/city of kissimmee
The Kissimmee City Commission voted  to ban marijuana dispensaries from opening in the municipality.

November legalizing the medicinal product. Instead, they said it was how the state Legislature is mandating how the places people get it can be regulated.
Since statutes were written to regulate the dispensaries no different than a pharmacy — where they can be, how they can present their signage — local governments are forced to ban them outright or treat them like pharmacies, which have no restrictions on where they can be in relation to schools, churches and each other.
It’s a black-and-white proposition with no shade of gray, City Manager Mike Steigerwald said.
“There’s no other mechanism,” he said. “Staff believes by banning them now, we can get the Legislature to loosen and allow some more home-rule authority.”
Other area cities, like Winter Garden, have taken Kissimmee’s path. St. Cloud issued a six-month dispensary moratorium, and Osceola County’s is for 90 days.
Kissimmee leaders voted 4-1 for the ban that can be revisited. Commissioner Wanda Rentas voted against the ban,
“People in my family have had cancer and Parkinson’s (disease) and could have benefitted from medicinal marijuana,” she said. “I never change my mind, but I didn’t vote for Amendment 2, but I can’t support this ban. The state law says you only get one per 100,000 residents, so Osceola County would only get three. Where will they go?”
Commissioner Jim Fisher said the ban is “the right thing to do.”
“This can be re-addressed and voted to lift it (later),” he said.
Mayor Jose Alvarez read multiple portions of State Statute 381, the law written to deal with the newly legalized medical marijuana. The bill seems to contradict itself as to whether the state or local governments had the ultimate right to decide. He said the ban is against the restrictions on local government, not a local ban on medicinal marijuana.
“The Legislature took a real shot at home rule this session. If they would allow us to regulate this, it would be what people voted for,” he said. “The law was written different than in any other state. We can’t say where to put (the dispensaries). As a grandfather, I wouldn’t want to see one next to a day
care center. I have an issue with that.”