Royal Palm Beach explains why it banned medical marijuana dispensaries

Royal Palm Beach residents looking for medical marijuana will have to buy it elsewhere.

The Royal Palm Beach Council recently voted to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in the village by a unanimous 5-0 margin. This comes after nearly 75 percent of state voters wanted to legalize medicinal pot last year.

READ: Wellington, Royal Palm Beach talk medical marijuana limits

The council initially wanted to allow the businesses with tight regulation on location. Specifically, they wanted to make sure that the dispensaries couldn’t be too close to each other, something that could potentially lead to “pockets” of the businesses.

That plan came crashing down when the Florida State Legislature voted to give municipalities only two options: Regulate dispensaries like they’re a pharmacy or ban them outright.

“You either ban them or you kick the door open wide, and you have no ability to close that door again,” Village Attorney Jennifer Ashton said.

Royal Palm Beach has seven miles of roadways that could be suitable homes for dispensaries if the village would allow them, Ashton said. And with no more regulation than a CVS or Walgreens, the council decided to ban them. The village has been taking the lead on medical marijuana decisions among the municipalities in the western communities.

READ: Latest on medical marijuana

The council can’t ban all access to medical marijuana in the village. By law, it must permit what’s called a medical marijuana treatment center.

Such a treatment center does everything from grow the plant to distribute it — a “farm-to-table experience,” Ashton said. That experience includes delivery to your door.

But it’s unlikely a treatment center would move to the village because they’re looking for very specific types of land, Ashton said.

READ: Lake Worth to be home to Palm Beach County’s 1st pot dispensaries

Don’t expect a ‘dry county’, so to speak.

The county’s first two dispensaries open in Lake Worth as early as this month.

Wellington’s council discussed it in February but hasn’t reached a consensus on how to handle medical marijuana.

Officials in both towns said they are concerned about safety, they said. Because marijuana is illegal by federal law, these businesses can’t use the federal banking system. The businesses must be cash only, which could lead to problems with robberies.

Both villages will continue to discuss this issue is the coming months and the state may look at it again in January.

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