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Hillsborough To Consider Cap on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Julio Ochoa/WUSF
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Hillsborough commissioners will consider placing a cap on the number of medical marijuana dispensaries that can open in unincorporated parts of the county.

A public hearing will be held June 7 to consider a cap based on population and patient demand. The proposal would allow 13 dispensaries to open in Hillsborough County based on a cap of one for every 67,222 people. 

Commissioner Ken Hagen proposed the cap because the industry is new and untested in Florida.

“It may not be a perfect comparison but I am having flashbacks to the pill mill nightmare and I am confident having dealt with that that we want to prevent anything like that from happening again," Hagen said.

The dispensaries would be awarded through a selection process that was adopted by the board in March.

Hagen proposed the cap as a starting point.

"If we need or want more dispensaries later we can add them," Hagen said. "As patient demand and population increases we can amend it."

Commissioner Sandra Murman requested to include an amendment that would ban smoking marijuana.

“This is for medical needs,” Murman said. “This is not about any kind of recreational issue.”

Murman said it’s is important that the community gets that message and limiting the number of dispensaries will help.

“Young kids are experimenting with marijuana at a very young age now,” she said. “They think it is no worse than alcohol and you can’t die from it and I think limiting the number of dispensaries will be good for us in enforcing our message that we are restricting it to medical use.” 

Julio Ochoa is editor of Health News Florida.