Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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On Tap at the County 5 Tonight: County Attorney Joel Foreman's Medical Marijuana Moratorium 

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Columbia County has the only elected county attorney in Florida. He is elected to serve as the County Commission attorney and is the people's representative. On November 8, 2016, Election Day, the people of Columbia County voted to approve Amendment 2 to the Florida Constitution, which approves the sale of medical marijuana. On November 17, County Attorney Foreman said the County needed six months to change the County's Land Development Regulations before medical marijuana would be available to the people in Columbia County. On tap tonight: Foreman's Medical Marijuana Moratorium

Amendment 2 does the following: 

• Creates a constitutional right for people with specific “debilitating” conditions – such as cancer, epilepsy, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis – to use marijuana as long as a physician has certified they have one of the specified conditions.
• Requires parental consent before a minor could be certified by a physician to receive medical marijuana.
• Permits caregivers to assist patients with marijuana treatments as long as that person possesses a caregiver identification card issued by the states. Caregivers must undergo a background check and are not allowed to use marijuana themselves.
• Requires patients and caregivers to get a state-issued ID.
• Retains state and federal prohibitions on recreational marijuana use, as well as prohibitions on operating vehicles and boats while under the influence.
• Creates “medical marijuana treatment centers” to cultivate and dispense drugs to certified patients or caregivers.
• Shields physicians from criminal or civil actions for issuing patient certifications.

It was widely predicted that Amendment 2 would pass. It did.

The Columbia County vote

The County 5, as well as the County Staff and the County Attorney, had months and months to plan for any anticipated update to County regulations to allow this Constitutional Amendment to be implemented in the County. 

Tonight, Mr. Foreman's Moratorium on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries comes before the County 5.

On November 17, Mr. Foreman called the issue a "perfunctory discussion of a moratorium" and claimed Suwannee County's County Attorney recommended the moratorium to him.

He did not explain if he had consulted any of the folks that elected him for their advice.

Mr. Foreman said that the ordinance "provides for a moratorium for six months." This is not true.

There was no six month time limit in the information Mr. Foreman provided on November 17.

There is no time limit in the ordinance that Mr. Forman is presenting tonight:

The County Manager is hereby directed to study potential land development regulations for cannabis dispensaries and the impact of such regulations in other jurisdictions, and to make report to the Board of County Commissioners of the County Manager’s findings together with proposals for amendments to the County’s Land Development Regulations to address any identified potential adverse impacts.

The proposed ordinance is open-ended.

Tonight, the County 5 can set a time frame, decide an ordinance is not necessary, or approve the County Attorney's Medical Marijuana Moratorium.

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