An agreement was reached yesterday at the hillsborough county Commission office regarding the quota amount of dispensaries to be open to provide access to medical marijuana for patients listed with ten severely debilitating conditions on the Health Department’s website. The quota that was talked about was that for almost 45,000 patients, they can only use one dispensary for cannabis in that area. That means nearly 20 dispensaries will be open in Hillsborough County, more than what was discussed months after medical marijuana became legal.

Change of plans

This change in thought came after the Commission decided not to limit licenses for those who wanted to apply for a dispensary and growers license for medical marijuana. Yet as the vote to have nearly 20 dispensaries in Hillsborough County was met, the final bill that was met in agreement with the special session that included Governor candidate, Adam Putnam, and attorney John Morgan, may potentially override the vote for limiting the number of dispensaries in Hillsborough County.

The bills passed by both the House and the Senate say that no one has the right to limit dispensaries in their counties, especially the local commissioners. This means that more dispensaries will be allowed to open and that anyone trying to prohibit growth and economic success in a medical marijuana market soon to come to Florida could mean that the purpose of Amendment 2 seems invalid to those who consider cannabis an illegal drug.

The other problem with the bills passed by the Senate and House is that dispensaries are allowed to pop up anywhere like a Walgreens or CVS. This also means they can pop up near liquor stores and schools, something that was agreed upon by the Hillsborough County Commission that should have these dispensaries built 750 feet from these establishments.

This state of political agenda could cause more harm than good for some county commissioners who want to make sure that everyone has safe access to cannabis in a reasonable environment.

Two steps back

Many of these ideas to cap the dispensaries in Hillsborough County and in several other counties throughout Florida highlight consumer concern about the lack of competition and fear of increasing prices to even restricting access to patients who can’t afford to drive one hour into downtown to get the medicine that they need. Pat Kemp, who voted no also voted against the point system method commissioners wanted to use to award licenses for dispensaries due to size and customer outreach of the store.