Atlantic Beach officials debate allowing medical marijuana dispensaries

City has temporary moratorium that expires in May

By Scott Johnson - Reporter

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. - The city of Atlantic Beach debated Saturday whether to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to open up inside the town limits. 

This morning the Atlantic Beach City Commission held a community meeting at City Hall on whether they can be zoned to set up shop after amendment 2 passed in 2016, legalizing medical marijuana in Florida.

The clock is ticking for Atlantic Beach officials to zone medical marijuana in town and whether to allow it. The city has a temporary moratorium that expires in May.

Atlantic Beach residents packed inside City Hall trying to develop an ordinance allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in Atlantic Beach.

The city is looking at how to zone the dispensaries. Currently, the proposal is 500 feet from schools, churches and other pharmacies.

News4Jax found support for dispensaries, including from Atlantic Beach resident Christine Adams, who doesn’t feel there should be any zoning restrictions.

“I’m not opposed to development of any kind as long as it’s consistent across the board, not anything singled out,” Adams said.

But residents such as Pam Robbins, who works with at-risk teenagers, expressed their concern. Robbins said she thinks opening dispensaries in Atlantic Beach is a bad move.

“(It’s) the beginning of the marijuana industry trying to legalize it statewide like Colorado, and if you look at Colorado and teenagers, what they’re dealing with because of pot, you don’t want that,” Robbins said. 

Former Atlantic Beach Mayor Mitch Reeves thinks the commission needs to stop debating zoning and debate whether or not they want dispensaries there at all.

“I think the real vote today is not where they’re going,” Reeves said. “This commission needs to decide do they want it. Yes or no. Then decide where they want them to go. The cart’s before the horse.”

The City Commission may need to pass an ordinance sooner than May. There’s concern that the state legislature could tweak medical marijuana laws by the end of their session in March that would shift change the amount of power local jurisdictions have over medical marijuana dispensaries. 

Copyright 2018 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.