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Medical Marijuana Treatment Center Zoning Ordinance Denied by Commission

A proposed ordinance that would restrict medical marijuana treatment centers to industrial zones- has been rejected by the Orange County planning and Zoning commission.

The ordinance was drawn up in anticipation of the state constitutional amendment on medical marijuana on the November ballot.

The amendment to the Orange County charter would have prevented medical marijuana treatment centers from being located within 1500 feet of schools, daycare centers or parks.

Other restrictions ranged from the placement of no loitering signs to the color of the building, signage, security and parking.

Planning and zoning commission chair Pat DiVecchio said he was concerned about the nature of the ordinance.

“If [the state constitutional amendment on medical marijuana] passes, then that means the majority of people are for it, so I’m not sure why we are taking a stand of restricting so much for the people that need it… to get what they need,” he said.

Some commissioners asked why, if medical marijuana is to be classified as a needed treatment for illness- it can’t be dispensed from a pharmacy or hospital.

Other commissioners questioned the spirit of the November ballot initiative.

Commissioner Rick Baldocchi said anyone who thinks it will be used purely for medical purposes is being naiive.

“Why isn’t Walgreens or CVS here saying ‘we want to sell it,” said Baldocchi.

“We didn’t get a patient here saying ‘I need it.’ We got industry people who are going to profit from it, and the only other people we got are people saying ‘We don’t want it near us’.”

Baldocchi called for a moratorium on the zoning ordinance.

Heather Zabinofsky- a grower who said she’s planning to buy two nurseries to produce medical marijuana- spoke during the public hearing.

“We’re not potheads, we’re not dealers, such as I’ve heard,” she said.

“This is a medical need, something that the citizens- the good citizens of the state of Florida- need.”

Representatives of the business community and residents also voiced concerns on where the medical marijuana centers would be located.

The commission is recommending a moratorium on zoning for medical marijuana treatment centers until after the November ballot.

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Matthew Peddie

About Matthew Peddie

Host of WMFE's Intersection & Assistant News Director

Matthew Peddie grew up in New Zealand and studied journalism at the University of Western Ontario. After graduating with an MA in Journalism he returned to Christchurch, working as a reporter for Radio Live and Radio New Zealand. He’s reported live from the scene of earthquakes, criminal trials and rugby ... Read Full Bio »