Clewiston law on medical marijuana updated

City’s moratorium on dispensaries changed to allow CBD sales

CLEWISTON — The city’s moratorium on medical marijuana treatment dispensaries or facilities will be changed only slightly for now, per the advice of City Attorney Gary Brandenburg, because of changes in state and federal laws.

Mayor Mali Gardner told commissioners at their meeting July 22 they needed to talk about changing Clewiston’s ordinance in light of changes in state law regarding the dispensaries.

Mr. Brandenburg explained: “Two issues here. The first is the language in your moratorium covers CBD oil, and it’s going to have to be amended to exclude CBD oil because that oil is perfectly legal to sell anywhere in Florida. In fact, you have several stores in the city already selling it.

“The second issue — and the reason why this moratorium was originally put in place — was because of uncertainty with regard to the sale and licensing of medical marijuana dispensaries. That was, I think, three years ago, maybe four. So there’s no longer any real issues or uncertainty with respect to that topic. The commission may want to consider providing someplace in the city for such activity to occur.”

Mayor Gardner asked him, “This does not create a problem with federal law, correct?” and the attorney replied that “CBD oil does not.”

“So, the recommendation is to amend the ordinance to allow what state and federal law already are allowing. As far as anything else … we have options here to just modify our language to correct the CBD oil issue, and then … the medical marijuana dispensary … is another discussion we need to have, because it is allowed by state law but it is still a violation of federal law, correct.”

Mr. Brandenburg said she was right.

Commissioner Julio Rodriguez asked whether there was any requirement “that we have to allow a medical marijuana dispensary in the city.”

Mr. Brandenburg said although there was not, he recommended that they “devise an ordinance that narrowly describes where such activity could occur, and similar to how your ordinance treats something like adult entertainment and put requirements on it as such.”

He said it would be allowed, then, but only in “a very prescribed fashion” so they could avoid litigation over not allowing medical marijuana to be dispensed in the city.

Mayor Gardner said the CBD oil issue was the only one they had “enough information on that state law has changed and that we cannot prohibit it, but any other lifting of the moratorium would require, in my opinion, a lot more discussion and I’d like to see what other small towns are doing.

“I, for one, am not comfortable in making any other changes tonight other than … changing our ordinance to not exclude CBD oil sales in the City of Clewiston.”

Commissioner Melanie McGahee made a motion that they amend to comply with the law on CBD, and Mr. Rodriguez seconded. The motion carried 4-0.

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