Port St. Joe commissioners will consider following the county’s lead and initiate the process of banning medical marijuana dispensaries or treatment centers.
However, city commissioners acknowledged that a vast majority of voters, state and local, supported a constitutional amendment allowing medical marijuana.
“The people did support it,” said Commissioner Brett Lowry.
City commissioners also sought information concerning how many county or city patients are registered with the state to be prescribed medical marijuana.
At least one also urged commissioners to consider that in a very short amount of time, voters may approve the legislation of recreational use of marijuana.
“We may see that as soon as next year,” said Commissioner David Ashbrook.
Commissioners voiced two significant hurdles: first, the zoning requirements for medical marijuana dispensaries are such that they could locate in only one or two sites in the city.
Second, if commissioners allow one dispensary they will have no say, under state law, as to how many might locate within the city limits; once the door is open all may enter.
Commissioners asked attorney Adam Albritton to have an ordinance ready for consideration and first reading Tuesday that would follow the county’s lead in banning dispensaries.
The primary rationale from local officials has been a Florida Marijuana Policy Group report which warned against over-saturation and recommended population ratios; those ratios have been tossed by a circuit court.
The Policy Group recommended no more than one dispensary per 50,000 residents and cited the optimal ratio as one per 67,222 residents.
Gulf County’s population, based on the most recent census, is 15,000-plus.
Statewide there are 228,000 qualified patients (they have an active ID card) and 302,776 total patients.
As of June 6, there were 134 dispensaries or treatment centers statewide.
Boat docking agreement
City commissioners hope to have Tuesday an agreement with the St. Joe Company before them to allow four charter boats to dock along the bulkhead at Jetty Park/Clifford Sims Park.
A draft agreement submitted by St. Joe last month was met with hostility from commissioners, who wondered why they needed an agreement at all for the city to use its property.
The agreement was met with threats from Commissioner Scott Hoffman that he would never approve any permit sought by St. Joe for redevelopment of the marina.
St. Joe abruptly pulled its marina plans from consideration during a special hearing of the city’s Planning and Development Review Board.
Since that time attorneys on both sides have been working on language that would be amenable to the parties and the result of those discussions are expected before commissioners Tuesday.
A major sticking point is the length of the agreement; originally for just six months, the city is seeking at least 18 months.
“We are trying to find a compromise,” said St. Joe representative Patrick Murphy. “We want to get people back to work.”
Golf cart ordinance
Commissioners last week approved a new ordinance governing operation of golf carts in the city.
The most significant change, approved by a citizens committee before the PDRB and Commission, is a scale of fines for illegal operation.
The ordinance also reiterates and stresses that golf carts can not be operated by any individual lacking a driver’s license.
“I would just ask the parents not to let their kids drive a golf cart,” said Mayor Bo Patterson. “A golf cart is a privilege. It can be taken away.”