3-2 vote to approve the ordinance
LEESBURG — Medical marijuana dispensaries can now set up shop in Leesburg.
The City Commission on Monday voted 3-2 to approve an ordinance allowing the dispensaries within Leesburg’s city limits. Mayor John Christian and mayor Pro-Tem Elise Dennison voted against it, while commissioners Dan Robuck III, Jay Hurley and Mike Pederson supported it.
Currently, there’s only one dispensary in Lake County: Trulieve in Lady Lake.
In 2016, Florida voters approved Amendment 2, which legalized medical marijuana for certain conditions. But cities and counties could pass local ordinances to ban dispensaries. Leesburg and Lake County were among them.
In reversing its original position, the city determined that medical marijuana dispensaries can open anywhere a pharmacy can, so long as it’s more than 500 feet away from a school. They also can’t open in industrial areas.
So, in Leesburg for instance, zoning would allow them to build “up and down the 441 corridor, up and down the 27 corridor and down the Main Street corridor,” City Manager Al Minner said at Monday’s meeting.
The state has certified more than 2,200 doctors to prescribe medical marijuana for conditions including cancer, HIV, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and glaucoma. There are 144 dispensaries statewide as of July 12, according to Florida’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use.
In voicing his opposition, Christian said he’s concerned about the message the city would be sending.
Recreational use of marijuana is still illegal in Florida, and being caught with the drug could result in jail time and a permanent record. But with a medical marijuana card, people with the means can buy it legally.
“These kids are getting popped with less than 20 grams of marijuana and it sticks to them on their record, but yet we approve where people can buy it