As more states legalize medical or recreational marijuana, Plant City leaders to discuss ordinances in the event the federal government legalizes the drug.
At last week’s City Commission meeting, the City Attorney Kenneth W. Buchman proposed two ordinances that would amend Plant City code regarding the sale of cannabis if the federal government moves to legalize the drug.
Many states and territories now permit marijuana possession for certain medical purposes, and some have decriminalized or legalized possession of small quantities of marijuana for personal use. Under federal law, marijuana remains a Schedule One controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), and possession of marijuana for medical or personal use remains illegal.
“Federal policy regarding marijuana possession seems to be shifting,” said Buchman. “As Congress is considering various bills that may ultimately lead to the legalization of marijuana, our ordinances should be modified to reflect what the City Commission wants consistent with State law.”
The move comes after President Joe Biden’s October decisions to call for a review of federal cannabis scheduling under the Controlled Substances Act and grant a pardon to current U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents convicted of the federal offense of simple possession of marijuana. In December, members of Congress failed to include a key cannabis banking bill, that would have undone federal restrictions that make it difficult for legal cannabis businesses to access financial services, as part of the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill.
Currently, Florida Statutes, Section 381.986(11) gives municipalities the choice of either banning Medical Marijuana Treatment Center Dispensing Facilities throughout the City or allowing them in any place that a pharmacy is located. Plant City’s current ordinance bans the sale of cannabis within city limits but provides that if Federal law changes, allowing the sale of marijuana, then medical marijuana can be sold in the C-1B zoning district.
There are 38 Medical Marijuana Treatment Center Dispensing Facilities within Hillsborough County, including 29 in Tampa, six in Brandon, one in Apollo Beach, one in Riverview and one in Seffner. Polk County has 16 dispensaries, including eight in Lakeland.
Two ordinances were submitted for the City Commission’s review. One ordinances would provide that if the federal government allows for the sale of marijuana, that medical marijuana would be sold in all zoning locations that a pharmacy would be allowed. The second ordinance provides that the sale of medical marijuana would be banned within the city. Buchman’s recommendation was the the Commission submit one or both ordinances to the Planning Board for its recommendation.
Ultimately, the City Commission decided to send both ordinances to the Planning Board for review. Public hearings will be held in coming months to gather public feedback.