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Orange County Votes Tuesday On Medical Marijuana Ban


The Orange County Commission will vote Tuesday on whether to ban medical marijuana treatment centers in unincorporated parts of the county.

The Florida Legislature passed a bill saying local governments can either treat dispensaries the same as a pharmacy, or ban them outright. This is the second meeting on the issue, and at the first, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs says local governments want more control.

“This is the one time where it’s ‘If you don’t stick exactly to what we have, ban it,'” Jacobs says. “We really feel like we have a gun to our head and we better ban it. The intel we have is that changes are gonna made next year.”

But Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, an Orlando democrat in the Florida House, said the legislature won’t take it up until 2019. Smith said he wanted local governments to have more control.

“But I am here to plead with you to not support a ban and instead support the proposal to fully implement it,” Smith said. “The reason why is this will have a direct impact on patient access and affordability.”

Dozens are expected to come and urge Orange County Commissioners to allow medical marijuana treatment centers in unincorporated parts of the county. Florida voters overwhelmingly approved medical marijuana in 2016.

Robin Harris spoke at the last Orange County meeting, saying she was given a marijuana edible for a neck injury – her first time using the drug.

“There was no evidence of me being high or anything, but the pain subsided and I felt really good. And so I’m here today because I feel like we shouldn’t have such outmoded thoughts about this. People need to be able to have access.”

The county planning board recommends a ban, and then asking the legislature for more local control. The meeting starts at 5 p.m.

Local governments have been mixed on the issue, with cities and counties differing on the issue.

Local governments with a moratorium or a ban in place or being considered include:

·        Edgewood

·        Winter Garden

·        Winter Park

·        Apopka

·        Windermere

·        Ocoee

·        Seminole County

·        Osceola County

·        Hardee County

·        Brevard County

·        Indian River County

·        Sumter County

·        Collier County

·        Charlotte County

·        Lake County

Dispensaries are allowed in the following cities and counties:

·        Orlando (although lawyers warned the city’s ordinance, which includes a cap, would be difficult to defend in court)

·        Polk County

·        Broward County

·        Palm Beach County

·        Flagler County

Health News Florida reporter Abe Aboraya works for WMFE in Orlando. He started writing for newspapers in high school. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2007, he spent a year traveling and working as a freelance reporter for the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly, and working for local news websites in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently Abe worked as a reporter for the Orlando Business Journal. He comes from a family of health care workers.