Florida voters overwhelmingly approved medical marijuana in late 2016. But for many patients across the state, actually getting medical pot is still almost impossible. In some cases, the state has taken months to approve applications, while suppliers that can't keep up with the demand are constantly out of stock.
And in some cities, the local government has decided to ban dispensaries altogether. Homestead is the latest town in Miami-Dade moving to ban medical pot shops from its borders.
"If we say yes, they'll be everywhere," Mayor Jeff Porter said at an April committee meeting. "All of us that got to see it in California, [it's] kind of a mess, kind of a real mess."
About 100 municipalities in Florida have enacted temporary moratoriums or outright bans on dispensaries, according to the Naples Daily News. Homestead council members placed a yearlong moratorium on facilities in February 2017, and the city council will vote on a permanent ban at a meeting tonight.
"Significant safety and security issues exist... because such establishments maintain large drug inventories and are forced to deal in cash since their activities have not yet been sanctioned by federal law," the proposed ordinance reads. "Such businesses are inherently attractive targets for criminals, and it is therefore essential that the city prevent such uses to protect and advance the public health, safety, and welfare."
Of course, those concerns are mostly BS. The stats out of Colorado and Washington — where recreational pot is legal — show little change in crime and none of the predicted rises in traffic fatalities or teen smoking. The evidence is even clearer with medical marijuana: One study even showed a dramatic rise in crime after California closed hundreds of medical pot clinics.
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The move is even more ironic in Homestead, which is already home to farms that grow legal marijuana for the South Florida market. But in April at a committee hearing, Homestead leaders pushed a dispensary ban as a "middle-of-the-road compromise" because state law doesn't allow cities to prohibit medical pot farms.
"Delivery is still allowed to any patient in the city," City Attorney James White said in April. "By saying no to dispensaries, that option is still available to anyone in the city."
In South Florida, cities such as Coral Springs, Pompano Beach, and Margate have already banned dispensaries. Coral Gables Commissioner Vince Lago proposed a similar ban but changed his mind after speaking with medical marijuana advocates.
In Homestead, there might still be time for city leaders to reverse course too: According to the council's agenda, the dispensary ban is scheduled to go to a public hearing in June.