Citing Health Concerns, Coral Gables Halts Approvals of Vape and CBD Shops

Coral Gables is suspending approvals of vape shops and CBD stores.
Since the news broke this summer that vaping has caused dozens of people to grow sick and even die, consumers and government agencies have been in full panic mode. As of now, 33 people, including at least one in Florida, have died from a mysterious lung illness.

Those health concerns are now trickling down to local governments. Yesterday, Coral Gables city commissioners unanimously approved two moratoriums on vape shops and stores that primarily sell CBD products. The resolutions will temporarily suspend the city's application processing and permit approvals for such businesses.

City Attorney Miriam Soler Ramos says the moratoriums will give city staff more time to evaluate how Coral Gables should establish zoning regulations for those businesses.

"There have been individuals asking questions about where we permit these types of shops," Soler Ramos tells New Times. "That got us to thinking — we don't really know."

The moratoriums will be active for 120 days and can be extended with commission approval. There was little discussion from commissioners and no comments from the public at the city meeting.

In December 2018, the Farm Bill made growing and selling hemp legal and opened the door for states to draft legislation to regulate cultivation. Florida's Senate Bill 1020 created a state hemp program, but regulation is murky. Soler Ramos says the moratoriums will give Coral Gables more time to research legislation surrounding the regulation of CBD and vape products.

The vape-shop moratorium resolution cites concerns from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about the long-term health effects of vaping. In Florida, between 50 and 99 cases of vaping-related lung injuries have been reported, according to a CDC map.

The moratoriums in Coral Gables won't affect businesses already in operation, according to the city attorney. Businesses, such as gas stations, that offer only a handful of CBD products, also won't be affected.