City of Coral Springs Reverses Ban on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Coral Springs City Commission. Photo by Sharon Aron Baron.

By: Sharon Aron Baron

After three years, the City of Coral Springs has reversed its ban on medical marijuana dispensaries. In 2016, weeks after 71 percent of Florida voters approved Amendment 2 allowing for medical marijuana, city commissioners voted to place a temporary moratorium on dispensaries in the city.

Two years later the late Mayor Skip Campbell and Commissioner Dan Daley’s views on medical marijuana changed; however, they were unable to overturn the moratorium as Commissioners Carter, Cimaglia and Vignola voted to extend it.

Due to pressure from the community, the question of medical marijuana dispensaries was revisited once again in January at a commission workshop and put on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting. Commissioner Joy Carter said she was now favor of them, but she didn’t want to see them everywhere and wanted a designation of where they could be located, so they weren’t near schools or churches. 

“I have no issue with them in the city,” said Carter. “I just don’t want a proliferation of them.” 

Commissioner Larry Vignola, who voted no, was concerned that children in schools could get a hold of their parent’s medical marijuana.   

Vignola also did not believe having them in the city was necessary because residents could get their medicine delivered to them, even though he mentioned that he picks up his medications at a local pharmacy.

“We’re not prohibiting people from getting their medications,” said Vignola. The concern for me isn’t the delivery; the concern for me is the map of all the cities around us that prohibit it.”

He said that Coral Springs would be known as the center for people that can’t wait hours, or days, for it to be delivered.

“I’m not anti-medical marijuana. I’m anti-people that can’t wait a few hours,” said Vignola.

Dan Daley, who voted in favor of medical marijuana dispensaries, said that for him it was pretty simple after almost six and a half million people voted in favor of it in 2016.

“Those folks in the legislature haven’t listened, and since then have paid the price. I think it’s long past time that we permit this,” he said. 

He said even in their own city-wide poll, 62 percent of residents were in favor of it.

“How many more times do we need to see that the majority of people say that they want this and they want access to this before we get it right?”

Voting in favor, Commissioner Joshua Simmons said that marijuana, a Schedule 1 drug could help get people off dangerous Schedule 2 drugs. 

“This isn’t a partisan issue. This is merely to save lives – and give people access to their choice of treatment that makes them feel good today and help them live a life as long as they like to.”

As a Broward County Public School teacher, Simmons said that the problem in schools with students using vape pens and canisters aren’t coming from medical marijuana treatment centers.  “They’re coming from local convenience stores or getting it mailed to them.”

“What we can do is become a compassionate city,” said Simmons. “We can help those residents who want this type of treatment.”

Newly elected mayor Scott Brook shared a story that happened back in the early 2000s when someone was concerned because the city wouldn’t allow tattoo shops.  At the time, the city did not permit them as there were some concerns about how it would affect the neighborhood and the community. 

“In 2003, we had permission for that kind of usage in the community, and I haven’t heard of any safety concerns.  I haven’t heard about anybody being there and causing more crime in our community,” said Brook. “It was something that was kind of unknown at the time, and there was some fear about tattoo parlors.”

He said the 10 or 12 they have now are revenue-makers for the city and provide a great service.

Brook addressed the fact that other cities have banned dispensaries.  “I’m happy we take a leadership role on a lot of different things.  Years ago, we were one of the first cities to have Facebook and connect with citizens.  We’re not the first city [with dispensaries] here.  There are a lot of cities locally that have allowed this and have had no issues at this juncture.”

The second reading will be held on April 3, 2019.

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