Miami Beach

Moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries in Miami Beach could be extended Wednesday

The final product in either botanical oil concentrate or capsule form, all produced from the Cannabis plant on Tuesday, January 17, 2017.
The final product in either botanical oil concentrate or capsule form, all produced from the Cannabis plant on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. cmguerrero@elnuevoherald.com

Miami Beach commissioners will on Wednesday consider extending a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries while the city and state hash out how to implement Amendment 2.

The moratorium, first passed the day after 71 percent of Florida voters approved using medical marijuana for people with certain medical conditions, is scheduled to expire March 18. The extension would push that date back to May 17.

Commissioners Joy Malakoff and Rick Arriola are sponsoring the extension.

“The moratorium ensures Miami Beach can create a sensible road map for welcoming medical marijuana to our community safely and responsibly,” Arriola said. “I support legalizing but it can’t be a free-for-all — we don’t want the Wild West.”

The moratorium has garnered support and criticism. Commissioner Michael Grieco, who opposes the temporary ban, said he wanted to talk about the zoning issues last year before the passage of Amendment 2, but the conversation went nowhere with fellow commissioners.

Filmmaker and medical marijuana advocate Billy Corben also criticized the moratorium.

“It’s obstructionist,” said Corben, who helped fund a straw ballot in Miami Beach in 2013. That year, 64 percent of Beach voters supported allowing medical marijuana. In November, 80 percent of Beach voters approved.

Corben said he’s worried the moratorium is an attempt to zone medical cannabis off the Beach. He recently told the Miami New Times that he believed Arriola was scaring locals by suggesting the Beach could become a destination for tourists seeking marijuana.

Arriola, who said he voted for Amendment 2, said he has talked to residents who are concerned about having dispensaries as neighbors.

“We need to create safe access to dispensaries for the people who need the access. The moratorium gives us time to determine where, when and how we introduce this policy,” Arriola said. “Bottom line is that dispensaries should be for people who need the medicine, not for people in the market for recreational pot.”

State health officials will hold a public hearing from 10 a.m. to noon Feb. 7 at the Broward County Health Department, 780 SW 24th St., Fort Lauderdale, to collect input on rules on medical cannabis.

If you go

What: Florida Department of Health public hearing on medical marijuana

When: Feb. 7, 10 a.m - noon

Where: Broward County Health Department, 780 SW 24th St., Fort Lauderdale

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