Dade City sets workshop on medical marijuana dispensaries

The Dade City City Commission again will consider whether or not to allow medical marijuana treatment centers within city limits.

This city’s six-month moratorium, or temporary ban, on such dispensaries expires Sept. 21.

Commissioners will have a workshop on the matter Sept. 24 at 4 p.m., at City Hall, 38020 Meridian Ave., in Dade City.

In March, city leaders voted to extend its moratorium relating to the operation of cannabis dispensing organizations and the issuance of business tax licenses for such facilities.

It marked the fourth time commissioners passed a six-month extension of the moratorium. The original moratorium was enacted in 2016, to continue to study the potential impacts of such facilities on the municipality.

According to Florida Statutes, medical marijuana dispensaries and treatment centers are permitted in zoning districts where pharmacies are also allowed.

City leaders previously have expressed an interest to allow dispensaries, so long as they’re limited to commercial highways or the outskirts of town.

The commission earlier in the year directed city staff to draft an ordinance that would have allowed for medical marijuana in all zoning districts where the city allows pharmacies, except in the CRA downtown corridor and within 500 feet from any school.

However, the city’s planning board recommended denial of the drafted ordinance, with concerns about language ultimately limiting pharmacies or drugstores in the downtown area, in making them legal nonconforming use. The planning board then recommended the commission to extend the moratorium, with a time frame to be determined by the commission.

Dade City Mayor Camille Hernandez emphasized the city needs to find a long-term solution to the matter, one way or another. “We can’t drag feet; we’ve got to do something,” she said.

Regarding medical marijuana facilities, City attorney Thomas Thanas said other Florida municipalities “are trying to get out in front of this with an ordinance one way or the other.”

“Quite a few communities have passed ordinances that ban dispensaries and quite a few have done just the opposite where they’ve allowed them,” he said.

Published September 18, 2019

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