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City to take second look at medical marijuana ban

The city will reconsider its five-year ban on medical marijuana dispensaries. Boca city council passed four moratoriums, the latest last fall. But now it’s time to also consider compassionate care, Mayor Scott Singer said at his town hall Wednesday.

Patients who have a prescription for medical marijuana are inconvenienced. And veterans are particularly impacted, two Boca residents told the mayor. A zoning law to restrict dispensaries to certain areas is tentatively on city council’s workshop agenda Feb. 25. Singer announced to applause.

“I’m not opposed to them in the city, but the one-size-fits-all approach didn’t work,” he said. “It’s a new area of the law and it’s still illegal under federal law.”

City council passed a one-year moratorium on Oct. 28, 2014, but the state initiative failed. Another ban was approved on Nov. 8, 2016, when voters passed the state law. Florida now has an Office of Medical Marijuana Use under the health department. But Boca extended the dispensary bans in October 2017 and ’18. The city’s planning and zoning board voted 4-2 to agree in 2017. But the P&Z was “concerned that city residents must leave the city to obtain medical marijuana.”

Dispensaries are legal just across the border in Palm Beach County. Deerfield Beach to the south and Delray Beach to the north advertise dispensaries online. But the Florida legislature voted to restrict the authority of municipalities to regulate dispensaries. That intrusion into home rule concerned the mayor.

“We also wanted to look at other cities,” he said.

By Marci Shatzman

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