Jacksonville Beach reconsidered its medical marijuana dispensaries ban Nov. 20, opening the decision to new options in January.

 

Jacksonville Beach City Manager George Forbes is working with Planning and Development Director Bill Mann and the city attorney to present options the city council has at the beginning of the new year. He declined to say what those options would be, but said that they will aim to address concerns within, and expressed to, the city council.

“I think the council is very sympathetic to something feasible on medical marijuana, and we’re going to look at several options,” said Forbes.

City council directed staff to look at more options after voting down the resolution to ban medical marijuana dispensaries on its second reading Monday, Nov. 20, and a proposed motion to extend the city’s moratorium on dispensaries failed in a tie vote. Council members Chris Hoffman, Phil Vogelsang and Keith Doherty voted against the extension, and Jeanell Wilson, Lee Buck and Mayor Charlie Latham voted for the extension.

Latham proposed the moratorium extension to give him time to work with the state legislature to give smaller municipalities more options to choose where medical marijuana dispensaries should be zoned within city limits. He originally supported the ban because it would allow dispensaries to be in all commercial zones, including ones that are close to residential-zoned areas in the city.

Even with the proposal voted down, Latham has already started to work with Senator Gibson and the Duval delegation of the state legislature on drafting a bill that would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to only be allowed in C2 zoning districts. He said this central commercial zoning district is farther away from residential-zoned areas within the city.

“Pick any city that’s not a beach city,” said Latham. “There are plenty of places that are zoned commercial and aren’t in neighborhoods. In coastal communities, that’s almost unheard of. So this is another symptom of a much larger problem, and that is legislature’s continued attempts to decimate home rule.”

The large number of people — some from areas outside of Jacksonville Beach — who spoke against the dispensary ban, helped to sway the tie vote on the moratorium extension.

Hoffman, Doherty and Vogelsang also spoke in opposition of the ban again, based on the 81 percent of votes for medical marijuana in the state.

“There’s also this undercurrent that medical marijuana is a plague to our society,” said Doherty. “I’m all for the use of alternative medicines, and if somebody is in severe pain I’d rather them have a prescription for medical marijuana than oxycodone.”