As the law was evolving in the Florida Legislature in recent years, the Board of County Commissioners adopted something of a wait-and-see approach to medical marijuana legislation.

After all, the legislation evolved from a constitutional amendment overwhelmingly supported by voters statewide and in the county.

The county adopted and renewed several times over the past couple of years a moratorium on all medical marijuana practices, be it grow farms or dispensaries.

Now, that the law has somewhat stabilized, commissioners moved last week to ban marijuana dispensaries from the county.

During a special meeting last week, the BOCC had the first reading of an ordinance which would place such a ban in the county.

The board will conduct a second reading and adoption later this month.

In effect, the ban is possible under state guidelines evolving from a policy group report on the medical marijuana law that held the state should not allow a saturation of dispensaries.

The number of dispensaries, or storefronts featuring medical marijuana, should be based on population, including holding the number to just one per 15,000 residents.

Another measurement for urban areas also precludes a dispensary from setting up in the county with its roughly 13,000 residents, said county attorney Jeremy Novak.

And, the board having already held that prohibiting such establishments was in the best interest of the public health, safety and welfare, extending what had been a moratorium into an outright ban was the next step.


Fifth-penny bed tax

Commissioners also held the first reading, with the second reading and adoption later this month, on an ordinance which would extend for another five years collection of the so-called fifth-penny in bed tax.

The initial ordinance was adopted in 2014 aiming to collect dollars to promote tourism through “parks and recreation,” Novak said.

The extended fifth-penny would sunset in 2025.

Other than some costs related to Tourist Development Council operations not much of fifth-penny funds has been expended.

Nearly two years ago, the BOCC voted to segregate up to $1 million to be used at the 10th Street Park, but that project has been stopped by litigation from a group of neighbors to the project.

The county is now negotiating to purchase the St. Joseph Bay Golf Club with fifth-penny funds.

The Club board, which approached the county, has already considered the purchase proposal and was scheduled to take it to the full membership this week.