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Municipalities Pass Local Ordinances In Case Voters Approve Medical Marijuana


Local governments are taking preemptive action in case voters approve Amendment Two, legalizing medical marijuana.

Municipalities around Florida have passed their own regulations before the Legislature can enact statewide rules.

City leaders in Naples voted to ban the sale and growth of medical marijuana. But if Amendment Two passes, the Legislature may overrule that decision.

If that happens, Naples Mayor John Sorey says another ordinance will keep the sale of the drug in a small medical zoning area.

“We are great proponents of home rule," Sorey says. "We think that from a zoning standpoint that is a local issue and we have the right to do that.” 

Naples is a small community of 20,000 residents. The city is part of Collier County, home to 330,000 people along Florida's southwest coast. Sorey says city leaders would be open to further restrictions on medical marijuana, depending on what the Legislature does.

“We’ll do whatever legally we can to control it," Sorey says. "We’re a big tourist destination, and we don’t want that kind of an image as far as the city of Naples is concerned.” 

“I think what local government is concerned about is that they don’t want Tallahassee to force a particular type of medical marijuana system down their throats," says Ben Pollara, campaign manager of United for Care, the group behind the amendment.

Pollara says many municipalities are enacting zoning laws to welcome medical marijuana businesses.

“Local governments should not, I don’t believe, make an attempt to outright ban access for sick and suffering patients in their communities," Pollara says. "But, they should be able to regulate this in such a way that serves their individual interests and also serves their patients.”

If Amendment 2 does pass, the Florida Legislature will have to approve laws for implementing it. New policies may include licensing requirements for growers, fees for dispensaries and taxes on marijuana sales.