Miami Commissioners Approve City’s First Medical Marijuana Dispensary – NBC 6 South Florida
For four years, Miami refused to issue licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries, but city commissioners have now paved the way for the first to open.
Commissioners voted 3-2 on Thursday to approve a certificate of use for Miami’s first medical marijuana dispensary, six years after Floridians voted to legalize cannabis for medical purposes.
There are currently over 425 dispensaries throughout Florida, but none in Miami.
Jason Erkes, with Sunnyside Dispensaries, has multiple locations but none in Miami.
“It’s a really big step for patients who need to get their medicine and it’s a big step for the cannabis industry,” Erkes said. “It’s been debated for a long time, but I think ultimately they’ll see there’s no negative societal impact.”
The commission had resisted granting a certificate of use for a dispensary. Commissioner Manolo Reyes voted against allowing a Los Angeles-based company to open a business in Miami.
“Because I want to set the regulations before they’re allowed to sell this marijuana, which is called medical marijuana, and make a clear distinction between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana,” Reyes said.
Proponents of dispensaries say the state has a fairly good grasp of rules and regulations, with a multi-step process for vetting businesses.
“It’s a highly regulated industry, so before you can apply for a license to open a store in a city like Miami, you have to be licensed by the state,” Erkes said.
Thursday’s vote gives MRC-44 a certificate of use to open a location in downtown Miami. For years, the city was in court with MRC-44, and the court eventually ruled that because Miami didn’t specifically ban the dispensaries, it had to allow the business to operate.
Commissioner Ken Russell voted in favor of the measure and said dispensaries will be treated like pharmacies.
“I have my medical marijuana card. After two wrist surgeries, I was prescribed opioids and I recognize the addictive withdrawal symptoms that allow people to get addicted to meth,” Russell said. . “It’s a really slippery slope that very normal people get caught up in and having alternative forms of pain medication is crucial.”