In November 2016, 80 percent of Miami Beach residents voted to legalize medical marijuana. More than two years later, the city has only a single dispensary — and now one commissioner wants to prevent others from opening.
In a memo to the mayor and commission, Commissioner Joy Malakoff suggested to the planning board that the city consider repealing ordinances that cover medical marijuana treatment facilities. The planning board will also talk about replacing that legislation with an ordinance that prohibits any other dispensaries from opening within the city's jurisdiction, she wrote.
Malakoff, who was appointed as an interim commissioner after Kristen Rosen Gonzalez was forced to resign to run for Congress, did not immediately respond to New Times' request for comment. But she's made her opinion on dispensaries clear in the past. In 2017, after the passage of state legislation preventing local governments from regulating medical marijuana dispensaries more than they regulate pharmacies, she tried to ban them outright.
“I can’t support a free-for-all of medical marijuana dispensaries in Miami Beach,” she said at the time, according to the Miami Herald.
The rest of the commission didn't agree. Before the state law passed, they had hoped to limit the number of dispensaries to three — and to strictly regulate them by banning anyone under the age of 21, requiring extensive surveillance cameras, and even mandating odor-management plans.
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After state legislators threw a wrench in that plan, commissioners agreed to restrict both dispensaries and pharmacies to four parts of the city. Last month, they passed another ordinance to control the number of medical marijuana dispensaries by requiring at least 1,200 feet between them.
“When we talk about medical marijuana, we have to be thinking about the future, and in the future, in the next few years, I suggest that we’re going to have recreational marijuana in the state of Florida,” Malakoff said at the time of that vote. “It’s moving in that direction. So I think we have to think about people lined up on the sidewalk looking to get their marijuana, and not just for medical.”
The latest move to restrict medical marijuana in Miami Beach will go before commissioners during their meeting next Wednesday. Malakoff is asking the commission to refer to the planning board an ordinance repealing the city's previous medical marijuana rules and prohibiting future dispensaries. The planning board is set to meet March 26.
The Beach's existing dispensary would not be affected if the ban passed, according to a city spokeswoman.