HIllsborough County strikes down cap on number of medical marijuana dispensaries allowed to open

Leaders voted on industry regulations, zoning
Posted at 11:36 PM, Mar 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-08 09:54:03-05

County commissioners debated Tuesday how Hillsborough County will move forward regulating an otherwise uncharted industry in medical marijuana. 

In their initial plan, commissioners capped the number of medical marijuana dispensaries allowed to operate in unincorporated Hillsborough County to only 13. 

"I feel extremely offended that we're trying to limit access to my son's life-saving medicine," said Renee Petro, a mother from Lithia who has been an outspoken supporter of medical marijuana. "The price gouging is going to continue and patients are going to continue going to the black market, that is unacceptable."

Commissioners had to decide how exactly the county will regulate and zone new businesses as a moratorium on the industry is set to expire in early April. 

Voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 2, which expanded the list of ailments approved for non-smoking medical marijuana treatments, in November's election. 

"71 percent is a strong majority, and a strong statement was made and I don't believe that this ordinance really lives up to the will of what the voters want," said Vinnie Seudath, who says his father will benefit from using medical marijuana. 

After hours of complaints and testimony Tuesday night, commissioners ditched the cap. 

Teresa Miller worries Hillsborough County will be flooded with dispensaries and experience a repeat of the infamous pill mill epidemic. 

She says two existing dispensaries in Tampa and 24/7 home delivery service is enough. 

"There should be no problem with anyone having access," said Miller. "So, I really don't want to see pot shops around on every street corner the way California and Colorado's had." 

Commissioners also approved a lengthy list of zoning requirements to open a dispensary. 

Dispensaries must be located at least 750 feet from community spaces like schools, parks, and libraries. 

They must also be 750 feet away from any residential areas and places permitted to sell alcohol. 

State lawmakers have until July 3 to pass their own plan for enacting and regulating Amendment 2. 



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