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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 6 months ago

Medical marijuana dispensaries remain confined to single zoning district in Ormond Beach

The City Commission and Planning Board want to see what happens at the state level before considering expanding.
by: Jarleene Almenas News Editor

Medical marijuana dispensaries will not be allowed to open beyond the pharmaceutical zoning district in Ormond Beach — at least for the time being.

In a joint workshop on Tuesday, Feb. 5, the City Commission and Planning Board decided to wait and see what happens at the statewide level following the legislative session, in wake of Gov. Ron DeSantis' announcement in mid-January that legislature provide him with a bill that will allow medical marijuana to be smoked. Currently, medical marijuana dispensaries are confined to open in the small professional/office B-1 district, like other non-retail pharmacies. Planning Director Steven Spraker said there are about 150 acres of land in the B-1 zoning district, but that not all of that is available.

Back in March 2018, the Planning Board explored expanding the zoning districts that a medical marijuana dispensary could operate in Ormond, fueled by interested provider who voiced at the time it could not find an available location in the city. Discussion of adding a pharmaceutical use to the B-8 commercial, B-9 boulevard and B-10 suburban boulevard zoning districts ensued, and the Planning Board recommended expanding it to B-9 and B-10.

However, now a year later, some Planning Board members had a change of heart.

“I would rather err on the side of caution," Planning Board Chair Doug Thomas said. 

Thomas said if the city kept its options limited, it would protect Ormond down the road should recreational marijuana be legalized in the state, a possibility several board members and commissioners put on the table. 

Ormond Beach resident Joe Hannoush, who ran for Florida House District 25 in the past election, said he believed the city should open the zoning for medical marijuana dispensaries. He said he doesn't believe that will trigger a slew of dispensaries to open across town, but that it will make the city accessible should one wan to service the area. 

Planning Board member Lori Tolland said that there are dispensaries that have opened up near the city in neighboring Holly Hill and Daytona Beach, and that those dispensaries are able to deliver their products. 

“But that costs money,” said Hannoush, who said not all residents can afford to do that. 

City Commissioner Dwight Selby said that he hasn't had a resident talk to him over lack of access to medical marijuana, or a dispensary talk to him about lack of locations. He said the city may be trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist.

“We’re fine just the way we are," Selby said.

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