The Pasco Commission has placed a one-year moratorium on the production and distribution of cannabis.
The plant is the basis for “Charlotte’s web,” a low-strain of medical marijuana.
In a roll-call vote, commissioners approved the ban unanimously, without discussion.
The Florida Legislature approved the non-euphoric form of medical marijuana in 2014, but the state has yet to get the program operating.
Several municipalities throughout the state have adopted moratoriums of varying lengths, similar to the one adopted by Pasco County commissioners.
During public comment, Chase Daniels, representing Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco, told commissioners that the sheriff supports the moratorium.
The ordinance in part states that growing and dispensing medical marijuana “represents new land uses not previously studied in drafting the county’s current regulations.”
By the end of September, Pasco planning officials will ask commissioners to prioritize a list of zoning issues that need to be addressed, including those related to cannabis.
According to the ordinance, commissioners could consider prohibiting production and distribution of cannabis, or enacting additional standards to regulate cultivating and dispensing cannabis.
During public comment, Palm Harbor resident John Chase cited several recent studies looking at the effects of legalizing medical marijuana, including ones from the Tulane School of Public Health, Lancet Psychiatry, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“They all say there is nothing to fear from medical marijuana,” Chase said.
The studies’ findings, he said, found no increase in violent crime or property crime, and no increase in marijuana use by adolescents.
“Marijuana dispensary, I know that’s a loaded word,” Chase said. “I also know our decisions are made better when based on evidence, not based on opinion or belief.”
Medical marijuana is a matter that could reappear as a referendum on the 2016 ballot.
United for Care, a group backed by attorney John Morgan, announced on Sept. 1 that Supervisors of Elections had validated 74,000 signatures on its petition. That means the next step is a review by the Florida Supreme Court.
The constitutional amendment’s language is similar to one in 2014 that received more than 57 percent of the vote, but fell short of the 60 percent needed to change the state’s constitution.
Supporters still must provide more than 609,000 additional, validated signatures to get medical marijuana back on the ballot.
Published September 9, 2015