Medical marijuana would be allowed within Plant City but confined to four acres if federal law approves it.
The use of cannabis, even for medical purposes, isn’t permitted within the City of Plant City — yet.
But if federal law ever approves it, City Commissioners have passed an ordinance that would limit the distribution and cultivation of medical marijuana within city limits. The ordinance was passed unanimously at the City Commission meeting Monday, Aug. 8.
The ordinance limits the approved area of medical marijuana dispensaries to just under 4 acres next to South Florida Baptist Hospital and Maryland Fried Chicken in the C1-B Neighborhood Business District. Additionally, medical marijuana dispensaries in Plant City must be at least 500 feet from any pre-existing school, church, daycare facility, substance abuse treatment facility, public park or residential area.
Without creating an ordinance with limitations for medical marijuana dispensaries, federal law approval could have permitted distribution in about 1,800 acres of the C1-B Neighborhood Business District because dispensaries would have had the same classification as pharmacies. The Neighborhood Business District includes pharmacies, hospitals, barber shops, florists, business offices and sandwich shops.
The ordinance further limits the production of cannabis for medical purposes to the M-1 and M-1A Light Industrial District. The facilities will all have an alarm system.
Many Plant City residents spoke about their opposition to marijuana and thanked Commissioners for taking measures to limit its impact in Plant City.
“I think what we’re asking you guys to do is to keep it as limited as you can … as difficult as possible to get it in the city,” First Baptist of Plant City Pastor Brian Stowe said. “With all due respect, make it as difficult as possible for it to come in.”
Rob Jackson, the senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Dover, agreed.
“I went to high school in Texas and saw the dramatic effects of marijuana,” Jackson said. “I would hate for Plant City to be known as a pot festival rather than for the Strawberry Festival.”
After public comment, the City Commission clarified it was not approving the use of medical marijuana in the city, but limiting where it could be sold and produced if eventually approved by federal law.
“If we don’t do this … we’re leaving about 1,800 acres open to anyone coming for an application,” Commissioner Mary Thomas Mathis said. “We’re condensing that to under four acres.”
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