Where Tallahassee went wrong on medical marijuana dispensaries – The Apopka Voice
By Gary Stein
Last Wednesday night, the City of Apopka was the site of positive change for the health and welfare of its citizens.
When Amendment 2 won in 2016 by 71.3% of the vote, the voice of the voters was clear – they understood the validity of claims that medical cannabis helps people with debilitating conditions live better lives and they wanted those people to have access to that medicine.
But when the legislature wrote the law implementing the new constitutional amendment, the conservative-leaning body wrote highly restrictive rules and regulations. Part of that highly restrictive and regulated approach was to prevent cities and counties from being able to decide on zoning medical cannabis dispensaries the way they thought was right for their municipalities, using a policy known as preemption. They gave them 2 choices: zone dispensaries no stricter than pharmacies or ban them altogether.
Banning dispensaries from an area goes against what Amendment 2 demands – access to the medicine if you are a qualified patient. Any county or city that enacts a ban could be held liable for breaking a constitutional law. But the idea of Tallahassee dictating how localities can run their own districts is so abhorrent to so many local officials that many opted for the ban.
Tallahassee made two mistakes – they underestimated the ability of localities to make the right decision and they didn’t give them enough information to make that decision.
All that many local elected officials had to go on, was the 80 years of misinformation and fake news stories that lead to cannabis to be federally illegal and a Schedule One controlled substance (which puts it in the same major category as heroin). That means it is believed that the substance is