Council Discusses Medical Marijuana Options


After a discussion at the Tuesday, October 3 meeting on whether or not to allow medical marijuana dispensing, treatment and processing facilities in Gulfport, council requested the creation of a formal resolution that they will vote on at a future meeting.

That resolution vote will be the deciding factor as to whether or not Gulfport will move forward to amend their zoning codes to allow Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTCs) to exist within the city limits.

In November 2016, 71 percent of Florida voters approved Amendment 2 to the state constitution allowing the use of low-THC marijuana by patents with debilitating medical conditions like cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma and post-traumatic stress disorder.

On February 7, 2017, Gulfport City Council adopted Resolution 2017-14 that established “a temporary moratorium on accepting and processing applications” for MMTCs to “preserve the status quo and enable sufficient time to review, study, and comply with all applicable codes, regulations, laws, and policies.” On June 23, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed legislation to implement the medical marijuana constitutional amendment. Now, each municipality in the state has the option of voting to allow MMTCs or not.

If Gulfport approves a resolution allowing MMTCs, then “it’s strictly a zoning issue,” said City Manager Jim O’Reilly. The city’s next step would be to amend existing zoning codes to follow state-level laws regarding the location of dispensaries, treatment centers and cultivating/manufacturing facilities, he said.

“There are a lot of steps that have to happen” in the process to allow MMTCs in Gulfport, said City Attorney Andrew Salzman.

In Other Business

The council approved the purchase of various pieces of equipment including a trailer mounted, 500-gallon vacuum excavator; a John Deere loader backhoe; an Isuzu flatbed truck; and replacement TASER-conducted energy weapons for the Gulfport Police Department.

The city’s representative to the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, Commissioner Joseph Barkley, was approved for another three-year appointment to the group’s board of directors.

Representatives from Harvard Jolly Architecture gave a presentation regarding a $7.8 million renovation plan to modify the Multipurpose Senior Center and Catherine A. Hickman Theater buildings. Councilmember Yolanda Roman expressed a desire for the construction to be “totally green” with a neutral impact on the environment.

Mayor Sam Henderson asked for the architects to come back to the council with net “ballpark costs” of a green building construction plan based on Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED options at the certified, silver and gold levels.

The regular council meeting scheduled for Tuesday, November 7 has been cancelled to accommodate a countywide election on the same date since the council chambers in City Hall are used as a polling place.

Prior to the November 19 regular city council meeting that begins at 7 p.m., a non-public shade meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. to update councilmembers “on strategy to move forward and possible discussion on a resolution” of a lawsuit brought against the city by three non-profit entities, Suncoast Waterkeeper of Sarasota and two based in California, said Salzman. The suit claims that Gulfport’s past sewage discharges violate the Clean Water Act.

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