Gulfport City Council made its next step in opening zoning codes to allow for specific terms and locations for Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTCs) in the city after a unanimous 5-0 vote by council at their weekly meeting on Tuesday, December 19.
Councilmembers Dan Liedtke and Yolanda Roman had voted no on a previous resolution on October 17 but voted yes in this ordinance.
“I think we should defer to the voters,” said Roman on Tuesday. In November 2016, 71 percent of Florida voters approved Amendment 2 to the state constitution allowing the use of low THC marijuana by patients with medical conditions like cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“The average age of a medicinal marijuana user is 60,” said Councilmember Christine Brown alluding to how many older Americans use marijuana medically.
“A dispensary or treatment center would be similar to a pharmacy and would have to be 500 feet from any school,” said Mayor Sam Henderson. It would also allow for clinics where physicians could treat on an outpatient basis only. The MMTC is an entity that acquires, cultivates, processes, transports, sells, distributes, or administers products containing marijuana, related supplies or educational materials to qualifying patients or their caregivers, and is registered by the Florida Department of Health.
This was the first reading of an ordinance that would fit medicinal marijuana into retail business use in Gulfport. The second reading will occur at the January 16, 2018 council meeting and, if approved, will allow medical marijuana dispensaries in the Gulfport zoning code.
Clam Bayou/Osgood Point Trail Connector:
In a night of unanimous votes council also voted 5-0 on a resolution providing for an increase in the city’s contribution to the Osgood Point/Clam Bayou Trail Connector. Originally adopted by council May 16, 2017, Resolution 2017-52 provided authorization to, along with the city of St. Petersburg, jointly develop, design and construct a bicycle and pedestrian trail connector with St. Petersburg.
The two cities will both increase their contribution to the project by $10,000. The trail project construction cost estimate has increased from $150,000 to $170,000, with the two cites splitting the cost.
Approval of Contraband Funds for Police Equipment
Council voted unanimously to authorize the city manager to use Contraband Forfeiture Trust Funds to purchase equipment for the Gulfport Police. Florida Statute allows for the expenditure of seized funds for, among other things, purchasing equipment for use by law enforcement. According to the city referendum the current balance of funds is $20,465.48. This expenditure would liquidate the funds, but that is the recommendation of staff, as increasingly strict regulations may limit their use in the near future.
Following a police department staff meeting on November 30, the following equipment purchases are being recommended:
A Portable Active Shooter Shield, which is a large Kevlar shield used to aid in searching or in evacuation in an active shooter scenario; mobile thermal printers, which allow officers to quickly and efficiently print traffic citations and other documents from their patrol cars; and Simunition firearm simulation training equipment, which would convert existing firearms to only fire training ammunition, allowing officers to participate in realistic use of force simulation training.
Upgrade to Library and City Network Internet
Council unanimously approved paying Spectrum/Charter cable company $599 a month, up $11 from the current $588, increasing the guaranteed service a fifty megabyte per second connection. This is a three-year agreement.
• Mitigated of any potential threats to the city networked environment that may result from continuous open public use of networked computers.
• Alleviated likely latency issues that may result from public use of computers on the city network.
• Separated the Library’s Integrated Library System from the city network for privacy concerns stemming from state statues.
Pension Increase Passes
Also on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting at the city building was a second reading of an ordinance to give those on a Gulfport pension a cost-of-living raise of 3 percent. This was the first cost-of-living increase and review to Gulfport employees since 2006. The ordinance passed unanimously.
Opiates added to City Employees’ Personnel Manual
Council unanimously voted to add four opioids to its drug testing and include them in the personnel manual in response to Department of Transportation and insurance requirements. Hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone and oxymorphone are the four drugs that will now be included in testing.
Lot Drawing for Ward One Ballot
City Clerk Lesley Demuth with approval of council randomly drew the order candidates will appear on the ballot for the March 2018 election. She drew candidate Bruce Plesser so he will appear first on the ballot with current Ward 1 Councilmember Dan Liedtke appearing second.
First Meeting of 2018 Moved Back a Week
Henderson suggested that the meeting scheduled for Tuesday, January 2 be moved to January 9 so council and city employees can be with their families for the holiday. Council also approved 5-0 to make it a perfect evening of unanimous votes.