Local governments have taken different approaches to dealing with medical marijuana dispensaries, with county commissioners banning the businesses and city officials trying to find a balance.
A couple of businesses are trying to open new dispensaries in St. Augustine.
St. Augustine commissioners enacted zoning rules in 2014 for growing, producing and selling medical marijuana. Commissioners made that decision in anticipation of the state creating a framework for allowing the use of already legalized low-THC cannabis. Then, in 2016, Florida voters approved an amendment that expanded the use of medical marijuana.
Now, the Florida Department of Health Office of Medical Marijuana Use has approved 14 businesses to dispense medical marijuana, and those businesses operate 116 medical marijuana dispensaries in the state, according to the office.
Today, St. Augustine is home to one medical marijuana dispensary. Trulieve opened the dispensary on Jan. 14 at 2303 N. Ponce De Leon Blvd., which provided relief for people who had sought medicine in Jacksonville, Trulieve Marketing and Community Relations Director Victoria Walker said.
“That location was really important because driving to Jacksonville is a lot, especially when you’re really sick,” Walker said.
To open a medical marijuana dispensary in St. Augustine, a business has to get approval from the city’s Planning and Zoning Board.
Two applications for medical marijuana dispensaries are scheduled to go before the board on May 7. One application is by Columbia Care Florida for a dispensary at 160 King St. The other application is by McCrory’s Sunny Hill Nursery, doing business as GrowHealthy, for a dispensary at 105 S. Ponce de Leon Blvd.
After voters passed Amendment 2 in 2016, the state allowed local governments to either ban medical marijuana dispensaries or treat them like regular pharmacies.
In April 2018, St. Johns County commissioners voted to ban medical marijuana dispensaries. County