Oviedo City Council members this week agreed to let the city’s moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries expire Aug. 5, making it likely that Oviedo will become the first Seminole County municipality to allow such businesses.
Council members also directed city staffers Monday to draft an ordinance that will treat medical marijuana dispensaries under the same zoning regulations as pharmacies.
Pharmacies in Oviedo are allowed to operate only in certain office and commercial zoning districts, which are mostly located along major thoroughfares. Council members are expected to vote on a new ordinance in the coming weeks to allow pharmacies and medical marijuana dispensaries to operate only in certain commercial zoning districts, but not in zoning districts for offices.
“This could be a drug that helps people with certain debilitating illnesses, and who are we stand in the way,” Mayor Dominic Persampiere said.
In November, 71 percent of Florida voters approved a state constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana.
The Legislature, however, later enacted new rules that give local governments the choice of either banning medical marijuana retail outlets or regulating them exactly the same as pharmacies.
Council member Steve Henken pointed out that on average, about 70 percent of Oviedo voters voted in favor the constitutional amendment.
“Those are the city of Oviedo residents speaking at the ballot box,” he said. “When the people speak, I’m going to listen. … And this might help some folks who are sick.”
Steve Edmonds was among several Oviedo residents who spoke in favor of letting the moratorium expire and said the government “should get out of the way” regarding medical marijuana dispensaries.
Oviedo had put in place its 180-day moratorium on medical marijuana facilities Feb. 6.
Elsewhere in Central Florida, Orange County commissioners Tuesday asked attorneys to look into both options — either a total ban or allowing dispensaries — before they make a final decision on dispensaries in unincorporated areas in the county.