Medical marijuana on Pasco agenda

Medical marijuana is slated to be a topic of discussion when Pasco County commissioners host a public workshop on Sept. 20 at 1:30 p.m., in New Port Richey.

The county’s legal staff currently is reviewing land use and zoning regulations to craft an ordinance governing the future of medical marijuana within Pasco.

County commissioners requested a workshop to hear a range of opinions on the matter.

In August, commissioners extended a moratorium on the growth, processing and distribution of cannabis through the end of the year. The existing moratorium was set to expire on Sept. 1.

Cannabis is the basis for medical marijuana, which is legal in Florida in a low-level, non-euphoric form known as Charlotte’s web. Its use is limited to patients with cancer or seizure disorders.

At prior meetings, commissioners have heard from law enforcement about increased crime rates in states, such as Colorado and California, which have approved either medical marijuana or its recreational use. Substance abuse or prevention counselors have said they worry about increased use of marijuana, especially among youth.

But, commissioners also have heard from residents with chronic medical conditions, who say medical marijuana eases their pain and gives them a quality of life that traditional medicines don’t provide.

Whatever the county’s final ordinance, it will have to take into account a statewide Nov. 8 referendum on the issue. Voters will be asked if they want to expand the list of illnesses that can be treated with medical marijuana, and if stronger strains can be prescribed and dispensed.

Published September 14, 2016

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